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Thrills, chills and spills at Qingdao's ocean park

By ERIK NILSSON | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-20 09:22
Haichang Polar Ocean Park in Qingdao offers unexpected experiences that go beyond the ordinary aquarium or marine-park visit. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Seals dance Gangnam style, balance balls atop of sticks clenched in their maws and perform acrobatics at Qingdao's Haichang Polar Ocean Park.

They stand on one flipper and then "shyly" cover their faces with the other, before returning audiences' applause, sitting upright to clap and nod at the crowds.

Indeed, the marine mammals possess incredible talents few humans can claim.

The park hosts several such performances with names like Walrus Concert, Sea Lion Dance Group and Penguin Diving Contest.

And, indeed, these go beyond the requisite routines of dolphins dancing and jumping through hoops that are the staple of nearly every marine park around the world.

But the shows are just part of the sometimes-strange but consistently fun attraction.

Visitors can also explore its Polar Oceanarium, 5D Dynamic Experience Hall and Polar Baby Land.

Such attractions, plus Viking ships, plastic pirates and robotic-dinosaur rides, offer unexpected experiences that go beyond the ordinary aquarium or marine-park visit.

Visitors will come to understand why the shore-side destination has served as a shooting location for about a dozen popular films, including Ocean Paradise and Love Bank.

Its aquariums enable guests to explore the ocean floor without donning a wetsuit. Coral and fish burn bright with every color of the rainbow.

Sea turtles swim with the grace of ballerinas. Manta rays float like ghosts. And sharks with jaws like saws patrol their tanks with unblinking stares.

The park also hosts such arctic creatures as polar bears that paddle through rippling waves, penguins that shoot through glass tunnels like torpedoes and arctic wolves that prowl atop rocks like sentries.

The arctic fox enclosure looks curiously like a human house, replete with plush chairs, bookshelves and windowsills-but with a large running wheel rather than a treadmill for home exercise.

Visitors can interact with many of the creatures. They can snap photos with seals, pet belugas and throw fish to dolphins that seem to grin in gratitude.

Indeed, travelers who explore Qingdao's Haichang Polar Ocean Park don't have to travel to the ends of the Earth or the bottom of the ocean to experience some of the most-difficult to reach places on our planet-and much more.

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