Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:33 pm
Gorillas on theme at Sea World
Jeremy Pierce | 12:01am July 10, 2013
GOLD Coast theme park Sea World is branching from marine to extreme with a new multimillion-dollar jungle-themed attraction featuring Queensland's first gorillas.
The exhibit, to open in 2015, will include gorillas, hippos, crocodiles and other animals as part of an African encounter attraction.
The gorillas would be sourced from an international breeding program designed to shore up populations of the primate.
Sea World officials were yesterday tightlipped about the project, which is the park's latest foray away from traditional marine-themed attractions.
An interactive dinosaur attraction was added this year.
A Sea World spokesman said the African safari-style attraction would be an exciting addition to the theme park, which forged its name on dolphin shows and aquarium exhibits.
"We are all excited about a wonderful new attraction which will be a Sea World first, but we're not able to release any more details just yet," he said.
Gorilla populations have been decimated, as one of the closest living relatives to humans battles loss of habitat and hunting for sport and meat.
There are about 50,000 gorillas left in the wild and just 600 of the famous mountain gorillas.
Al Mucci, president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Zoo and Aquarium Association, said Sea World's gorillas could act as pin-ups for the plight of the animals.
"The animals in the exhibit are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild," he said. "We have seen with the tigers at Dreamworld's Tiger Island the positive impact this kind of attraction can play in conservation efforts.
"It is also heartening to see a theme park is choosing to spend millions of dollars on an animal exhibit rather than a ride.
"It shows that there is value in this kind of attraction."
Only three parks in Australia have gorillas and none in Queensland, but it is understood Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast has expressed an interest in housing gorillas.
HERE'S a solid dose of cute for the afternoon, Sea World's baby polar bear cub, now the size of a Labrador puppy, has taken it's first steps just as the theme park unveils a new $1.5 million expansion of the polar bear enclosure.
The nine-week-old cub, which now weighs about ten times its birth weight at 6kg and is the size of an eight-week-old Labrador puppy, has stunned polar bear keepers who watched vision of it taking its first steps around its den.
Sea World Marine Sciences director Trevor Long said the cub's development is right on track with the average cub taking its first steps between 46 and 60 days.
``We are delighted to see the little cub taking its first steps inside the maternity den and we look forward to introducing mum Liya and the cub to the `Cub Kindy' play area in the coming weeks,'' he said.
``This area will also feature a camera from which cub highlights will be shown on `Cub Cam' throughout the day at Sea World.''
Once the cub is old enough to leave `Cub Kindy', protective mum Liya will introduce her baby to Sea World guests for the first time as they explore Polar Bear Shores.
Sea World has started construction of the $1.5 million extension which will allow Liya and the cub, as well as twin male bears Hudson and Nelson, to be viewed by the public at the same time.
``We are so excited about the extension... this new section of the exhibit will be a wonderfully enriching environment featuring a large pool, and various substrates and natural vegetation as well as foraging pits for the bears to dig and play in,'' said Mr Long.
``Like the existing Polar Bear Shores, this new area will be themed like an Arctic summer and will provide a stimulating and enriching environment for the bears to explore.''
Mr Long said the first 150 days of the cub's life was critical but polar bear keepers were pleased with its progress and Liya was constantly caring for her baby and displaying positive maternal behaviours.
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