China Cetacean Alliance investigation into Fuzhou Luoyuanwan Polar Ocean World, China (March 2017)
Fuzhou Luoyuanwan Polar Ocean World opened in February 2015. Luoyuanwan is a newly built satellite city close to Fuzhou, but it is a ghost town as the population is still quite small. Previous news about this Polar Ocean World suggests that this facility should have six belugas, four dolphins and a few walruses. However, we saw only three belugas and no walruses during our visit. In addition to the cetaceans and pinnipeds, there are other mammals, including primates, as well as amphibians, reptiles and birds.
The four bottlenose dolphins came to Fuzhou Luoyuanwan POW in 2015, all caught in Japan from the wild. All of them performed and could be seen after the show in the viewing area. The performance was a typical circus show with jumping, water ballet, beaching onto the deck and in-air vocalizations (“singing”). We did not observe any aggression. There was no enrichment in the tank and the performance tank had a rusted gate and peeling paint. The background music was loud during the performance. No one in the audience was invited to the stage during that performance, but people could pay to take photos with the dolphins.
According to Chinese media, there should be six belugas. The belugas were routinely kept in a separate arena that was out of view of the public and could only be seen during the performance. We only saw three belugas and a staff member told us there were another three backstage; we find this very unlikely and worry that three belugas have died.
The three belugas we saw were grey, meaning they were not yet adults. The performance was mainly water ballet and the belugas made some in-air sounds (“singing”). After the show, one beluga was positioned close to the edge of the tank to have photos taken with the visitors who paid for the experience. Some of these were parents carrying their children. The tank was supposed to be for the beluga whales and the walruses but there were no signs of any walruses at all. There was no enrichment in either tank and loud music was playing.
Media reports suggest there should be four California sea lions imported from Russia, but we only saw two, who were kept in different tanks. One sea lion seemed to be blind (the eyeball was grey and clouded), but we could not tell if it was a cataract. One sea lion swam in repetitive circles, a strong stereotypic behaviour . The other sea lion used its pectoral fin to hold its hind flipper and stayed in this position for the 10 minutes during which we stood in front of the glass. This too is a stereotypical behaviour.
Sources suggest that there should be six seals; however, we only saw four.
There were two monkeys in an enclosure. During our time observing this exhibit, a member of staff was cleaning the interior of the glass. This might be unsafe for the staff person, as monkeys can inflict serious bites, as well as for the monkeys, if the cleaning solution is not entirely non-toxic when sprayed and wet. It would be better for both if the monkeys were held in a holding area while the windows were being cleaned.
There were four macaws in one enclosure. The two blue and gold macaws’ feathers looked terrible. The two scarlet macaws’ tails looked damaged. There were some plastic plants in the enclosure and we saw the blue and gold macaws chewing on the plastic leaves that had fallen on the ground. One had a crooked beak.
Peacocks and Other Birds
Three peacocks live together in one enclosure. One was white; its beak was an odd shape and we are not sure if it can eat properly. Two other blue peacocks were tethered to fake tree branches so visitors could pay to take a photo with them.
There was also one golden pheasant and three mandarin ducks.
There were two water monitor lizards. One kept trying to push into and climb onto the glass in an agitated manner. It was doing this for 10 minutes as we stood in front of the glass.
One yellow Burmese python had its mouth tied up with tape so visitors could pay to take a photo with it.
The fins and tail of the puffer fish in one of the tanks were badly bitten.
Scorpions and Tarantulas
There were some scorpions and tarantulas in boxes, some of which were dead and dry.
The facility also houses a Bryde’s whale skeleton.