As a part of the new 126 ha eco-tourism hub in northern Singapore, the oldest wildlife park relocated from Jurong to Mandai. This Bird Park is known to be the oldest wildlife park in Singapore which has 5,000 birds of more than 400 species and 19 exhibits. Here are 5 thought-provoking facts about Jurong Bird Park that most of us probably didn’t know.
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1. Jurong Bird Park is built ahead of the zoo because “birdseed costs less than meat”.
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Dr. Goh Keng Swee, the former Deputy Prime Minister, who saw value in having a bird park in Jurong as a green escape in an urbanizing city, in 1968, was asked why not a zoo instead? He answered that birdseed costs less than meat. It was mentioned in former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s book From Third World to First: The Singapore Story that Mr. Lee and Dr. Goh felt big-ticket tourist attractions, like tigers and elephants, were very expensive to upkeep. Hence, a bird park was built ahead of a zoo. Jurong Bird Park was opened to the public on Jan 3, 1971, built at a cost of $3.5 million.
2. The evolution of Bird Shows at Jurong Bird Park.
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The birds at Jurong Bird park was used to be a place for performing kitschy tricks such as riding bicycles on high wire and playing basketball, but in 1990’s, it has evolved from just showcasing their natural abilities instead, such as swooping above the audience’s heads or engaging in cheeky banter with the presenter because the staff realized that birds should not be asked to do stunts that a human could do.
3. Changes that happened at Jurong Bird Park.
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Jurong Bird Park has introduced four new exhibits such as Jungle Jewels Flight Aviary, one of the four large free-flight aviaries where visitors can get close to birds such as the yellow-hooded blackbird and sun conures. The park has an avian hospital, and a breeding and research center. Changes at Jurong Bird Park underwent during the 1990s.
4. Jurong Bird Park’s amazing facts.
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Jurong Bird Park has over 200 species bred since day one and that includes threatened species such as the Bali mynah and blue-throated macaw. Its 2ha Waterfall Aviary is the second largest walk-in aviary in the world and housed more than 600 free-flying birds and a 30m-high waterfall. Another fact is that Jurong Bird Park’s Lory Loft is the world’s largest walk-in flight aviary for lories and lorikeets, with over 1,000 free-flying lories in a space covering 3,000 sq m.
5. Hawks memories at Jurong Bird Park.
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For many Singaporeans, Jurong Bird Park has long been a favorite haunt for school excursions, family day outings and shutterbugs, even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong holds fond memories during his visits.
This article was originally published on straitstimes.com on June 2, 2016.