Giant Panda Adventure, Ocean Park

Sat 15 Aug 2009 Company News

Soon after it opening, we got along to the Giant Panda Adventure. First a disclosure – I worked on the interpretive planning throughout the public areas of the attraction with Hypsos Leisure Asia. So, I was keen to see the finished result.

We wanted messages about how precious the key endangered species that had been selected for housing through the attraction integrated into the environment. Here, as part of the Chinese Alligator enclosure, a message about the role that these “national treasures” play in inspiring art and enriching our lives is carved into a column supporting the viewing canopy.

The concept behind the Giant Panda Adventure is to raise awareness about a number of species that are endangered in China using Ocean Park’s Giant Panda as the draw. Kids can collect brass rubbings of the treasures as they journey through the adventure. The first animals that visitors encounter is the impressive Chinese Alligator.

Soon you enter a mountain pass as you ascend to a hidden valley where the pandas live. You get glimpses of the elusive creature through a bamboo grove and then you arrive at a kind of panda shangri-la designed by Hanson Roberts. They have taken great care to make the enclosure naturalistic and varied enough to keep its inhabitants interested. There are plenty of places to climb, roll and recline.

Along the way, information is conveyed through signage that we wanted to make feel part of the setting – as if they were clues left by park rangers or villagers along the path until you reach the Research Camp where helpful rangers introduce you to unique aspects of Giant Panda physiology, diet and behaviour. And then we saw the star attraction ambling by before settling down to have lunch. This was close to the glass dividing the public from the enclosure so we could only think that the pandas are quite at home already.

The animals were the real attraction … especially the endearing and active Red Pandas. The Asian Small-clawed Otters that were due to be at the attraction had not arrived yet but when they do they will be even more competition for the Giant Pandas in the cuteness stakes.

Your journey ends at a mountain village dedicated to conservation.