They're coming from the North Pole, and it has nothing to do
with Christmas or who's been naughty and nice.
With six months of construction completed, the polar aquarium is
ready to open next Thursday at Nanjing Underwater World, giving
visitors a chance to meet new animal friends.
Most of the new residents are from the northern polar region
polar bears, northern sea lions, northern fur seals, Arctic
reindeer, Arctic foxes, Arctic hares and ferrets. But there will
also be southern sea lions and emperor penguins from the frigid
south, as well.
"We have built the polar aquarium to add variety to the existing
sea aquarium and dolphin aquarium, which will assist in popular
science education for school kids and provide more fun for
visitors," said a manager of Nanjing Underwater World, who declined
to give his name.
Since the attraction opened in 2000, it has received tens of
thousands of visitors each year, many of them are groups of eager
elementary and middle school students.
It is now one of the three most popular science education sites
Nanjing Underwater World began building the 80 million yuan
(US$10.3 million) polar aquarium in June.
When asked about the price tag, the manager explained that
creating the right environment for the animals is costly because it
must be the same in detail as that in the extreme latitudes.
"To make Nanjing seem like the North Pole, both in temperature
and environment, we need high technology to install facilities such
as a water circulation system, a temperature control system and a
ventilation system," said the manager.
The color scheme is easy enough. To be authentic, there are only
two white and blue.
And the animals themselves aren't cheap, either. Most of them
were imported from Russia, with some from South America, and others
are being brought in on short-term loan from other polar aquariums
in the country.
"I am very glad we'll finally have a polar bear in our aquarium
because I've never personally seen a polar bear," said Zhen Yurong,
Nanjing Underwater World's polar bear keeper.
He added that although they weigh 500 kilograms, polar bears are
such lovely animals that all the keepers wanted to care for the new
Zhen knew he would have to work long hours at the outset to
cater to the bear's needs and to get to know its temperament as
quickly as possible.
At 1.2 meters tall, the emperor penguins of Antarctica aren't as
big as polar bears, but those at Nanjing Underworld World will be
special in their own way.
"We are extremely happy and proud," said Wu Xuandong, another
keeper, "because we will have all six of the emperor penguins in
In a country where emperors ruled for centuries, that's a status
close to royal.
(China Daily January 26, 2007)