Bird poop. That was my one fear walking into this place. Fortunately, I left clean as a whistle (albeit a little sweaty) and with a rather pleasant experience.
It had been years since I had last been to the Jurong Bird Park, so I jumped at the opportunity to visit when it presented itself. My day started at 9am at the park’s entrance. My mission? To visit all the enclosures and catch the two free shows. And because there were too many enclosures (a whopping 19 in total), here are some of the highlights:
King of the Skies @ Hawk Arena (10am & 4pm)
I caught the 10am show of King of the Skies, which showcased eagles, vultures and owls. The show displayed their amazing reflexes, accuracy and speed as birds of prey. The set also included a carcass (don’t worry, it’s not real) for a nice finishing touch to lend more authenticity to the environment.
Penguin Encounter @ Penguin Coast (10.30am & 3.30pm)
After finishing King of the Skies, I raced over to the penguin enclosure to watch their feeding, set to start at 10.30am. Note that feeding starts from the outdoor area and visitors can purchase food on-site to feed the birds as well. Although I did not manage to catch the feeding session, I still got an up-close and personal look at our tuxedoed friends.
There are steps inside for the young ones to stand on so they can get a closer look at the penguins but it is quite dark so adult supervision is necessary. Notably, the design of the exterior made to look like an explorer ship was thematically appropriate and added an element of fun as compared to some of the other enclosures which were a bit blander in their design.
High Flyers Show @ Pools Amphitheatre (11am & 3pm)
Parrots, toucans and flamingos galore.
This show had a lot more audience interaction as compared to King of the Skies, which is understandable since these birds are relatively less dangerous. Both kids and adults alike get a chance to participate. The trainers usually chose volunteers from the centre rows of each block. (Something to keep in mind if you want to increase your chances of getting picked.)
At this two-tiered central feeding tower, you have the chance to feed the lories by hand with honey nectar you can buy at the entrance while the birds are free to fly all around you. Just be careful they don’t leave you a little surprise whilst flying overhead.
Bird Discovery Centre
Duck away from the hot sun into the Discovery Centre where you can learn more about the anatomies of various birds, their egg sizes and admire taxidermied specimens on display. What’s more? It’s air-conditioned too.
Step into the world’s largest walk-in aviary with over 600 birds and one of the world’s tallest man-made waterfalls, looming at a height of over 30 metres.
Check out some familiar and exotic friends I met along the way!
Admittedly, I felt some uneasiness seeing the birds, especially the penguins, in their enclosures while I was there but there are open areas like the aviary for the birds to fly freely, and many enclosures do not actually involve cages but instead shrubbery and stones. The keepers at the park also seem very knowledgeable and earnest in ensuring the welfare of their feathered companions. Moreover, a portion of proceeds from ticket sales goes towards wildlife conservation efforts in the region and there are donation boxes throughout the park for those who wish to lend an extra helping hand.
Some critiques I have about the place would be the priciness of food sold in the park. But hey, it’s a tourist destination so I wouldn’t have expected anything less. To avoid the high prices, you could always just bring your own lunch or eat elsewhere and return to the park after, although it is a hassle if you don’t drive. Alternatively, you could come after having your lunch or finish your rounds and leave before lunch time if you’re speedy enough.
I spent approximately 5 hours at the park, and that included watching two shows as well as touring all the various enclosures on foot. Overall, it was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours with the family, admiring the wildlife and learning more about our feathered friends. Jurong Bird Park will be shifting to Mandai as part of plans for a new eco-tourism hub in northern Singapore and will relaunch by 2020.