Haichang Holdings is not new to marine parks - or to controversial, interactive marine plazas. Last year, its Wuhan Polar Ocean World played host to an engagement in which the groom proposed to the bride on the nose of a dolphin. However, as the largest developer and operator of theme parks in China (it operates eight other large-scale parks in the nation), the company maintains that it is committed to animal welfare.
But there's an explosive - and worrying - number of facilities with captive mammals in China, says Peter Li, a China policy specialist for Humane Society International (HSI).
"However capable [they are] of seizing business opportunities, [they] do not have the specialized knowledge and expertise that captive wildlife institutions demand," Li, who is also an associate professor of East Asian politics at the University of Houston–Downtown, told The Dodo. "The welfare problems of Chinese zoos and wildlife parks and ocean parks are among the biggest number of inquiries HSI has received over the years."