Jurong Bird Park

Jurong Bird Park, which opened on 3 January 1971, is Asia's largest bird park and home to more than 5,000 birds across 400 species.1 Built at a cost of S$3.5 million, the 20.2-hectare  park draws about 800,000 visitors annually. The park offers visitors an immersive experience with large open-concept displays that feature exhibits simulating the natural habitats of birds.2

The bird park has been accorded a number of local and international awards for tourism as well as its breeding and conservation efforts over the years.3 One of its highlights is the Waterfall Aviary (known as Jurong Falls Aviary when the park opened), which houses a 30-metre-high man-made waterfall, and was touted as the world’s largest walk-in aviary, with over 600 free-flying birds.4

Background
Jurong Bird Park owes it founding to the vision of then Minister for Finance, Goh Keng Swee.5 The idea for a bird park arose from his visit to the Rio Aviary in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, while attending a World Bank meeting in September 1967. A visit to the Bangkok Aviary the following year convinced him that such a venture was feasible, and could be self-supporting.6 Goh went on to propose the creation of a bird park for Singapore at the inaugural meeting of the Jurong Town Corporation in June 1968. He saw the value of a having a bird park as a recreational attraction for Singaporeans to enjoy and connect with nature at a time at a time, the country was in the midst of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation.7


By the end of 1968, a 20.2-hectare site was chosen on the western slope of Jurong Hill (Bukit Peropok) in Jurong for the location of the new bird park.8 The park was designed by the London Zoological Society’s curator of birds, John Yealland, and aviary architect, J. Toovey. Construction began in February 1969, and was completed by late 1970.9 The park included 78 display aviaries, an administration block, a transit and quarantine station, a nursery breeding area, as well as facilities such as a tram system, a restaurant, refreshment kiosks, footpaths, benches and shelters.10

The park received contributions of birds from all over the world. By its opening day, 12 countries, seven zoos and 40 private donors had contributed birds to its collection. The park attracted 37,493 visitors in its first 15 days and welcomed its millionth visitor in August 1972.11 That year also saw the opening of the Loke Wan Tho Memorial Library, which carried photographs and reference books from the private collection of the late philanthropist and ornithologist, as well as the publication of the park’s first guide book.12

Developments and attractions

Since its inception, the park has strived to continually improve existing infrastructure, as well as introduce new attractions to provide visitors with a fresh experience.13 Among the many visitors that the park has hosted over the years included several foreign dignitaries, such as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 1972.14

The opening of Asia’s first nocturnal bird exhibit, "World of Darkness”, on 3 April 1982 marked the first in a string of new exhibits added to the park in its second decade.15 In 1985, Jurong Bird Park finalised a Master Plan for upgrading and redevelopment in an effort to boost its image and reputation as one of the top bird parks in the world.16 The S$7-million redevelopment programme commenced in 1986, and was completed in two phases over seven years.17

The first phase included a new entrance plaza; covered walkway; automated ticketing machines; a 240-seater air-conditioned theatrette; the Songbird Terrace; new Scarlet Ibis, Manchurian Crane and Crowned Pigeon exhibits; and the Fuji Hawk Centre (presently called Hawk Arena) with the Hawk-Walk and Falconry Arena.18

A Breeding and Research Centre was established in 1988 to strengthen the park’s on-going efforts in the breeding and management of birds in captivity, especially rare and endangered species.19 The park has since successfully bred over 200 species, and its notable hatchlings include the Bali mynah, blue-throated macaw, black palm cockatoo, hyacinth macaw, king penguin, twelve-wired Bird of Paradise (first in captivity) and the Oriental pied hornbill (first in the world to be successfully incubated and hatched).20 The park also became Asia’s first heliconia (a genus of flowering plants in the Heliconiaceae family) repository in 1989, when it was designated an official heliconia collection centre by the Heliconia Society International.21

More exhibits were opened by the end of 1990, namely the Crane Paddock and crane breeding aviaries, the White-winged Wood Duck exhibit, the Flightless Birds exhibit, the Woodpeckers exhibit, Penguin Parade, the Hornbill and Toucan exhibit, and the cockatoo and macaw courtyards.22

The second phase saw the completion of a 2,000-seater covered amphitheatre, a monorail system (dubbed the Panorail), and the Southeast Asian Birds Aviary in 1992 as well as the re-opening of an enhanced Waterfall Aviary in 1993.23 This was followed by the opening of large-scale exhibits: Parrot Paradise in 1996 and Jungle Jewels Flight Aviary in 1999, where visitors could get close to birds like the yellow-hooded blackbirds and sun conures.24

In 2006, the park celebrated its 35th anniversary after a S$10-million revamp that unveiled a new Palm Plaza entrance, the African Wetlands exhibit, retail and food and beverage outlets, such as the Bongo Burgers restaurant and Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream parlour, and Asia-Pacific’s first avian hospital.25

Apart from the iconic Waterfall Aviary, which houses some 600 free-flying birds from 50 species, key attractions of the park presently include the Wings of Asia aviary, home to the region’s most exotic and endangered birds; Penguin Coast, which houses 100 penguins across five species; Pelican Cove featuring the world’s most complete collection of pelicans; and the Lory Loft, which 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. The Breeding and Research Centre has been open for walk-in public viewing since 2012 to allow visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the park’s conservation and breeding efforts.26

Future plans
In September 2014, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the relocation of the bird park to Mandai, where the Singapore ZooNight Safari and River Safari are currently sited. This is part of a plan to transform Mandai into a precinct of nature-themed attractions for education and recreation by 2023.27 Expected to open by 2020, the new 17-hectare bird park will house one of the largest collections of birds in the world.28 It will feature nine large aviaries spanning different habitats, including wetlands, bamboo forests and rainforests.29


Timeline
1968:
 A 20.2-hectare site on the western slope of Jurong Hill is confirmed as the site for the new bird park.

1969: Construction of bird park begins at a cost of S$3.5 million (excluding the price of the land).
Sep 1970: The Jurong Falls Aviary is completed with the world's largest man-made waterfall as its centrepiece.
3 Jan 1971: Jurong Bird Park is declared open by Goh Keng Swee.
1972: The Loke Wan Tho Memorial Library opens, and the first guidebook is launched.
Aug 1972: The millionth visitor is recorded.
Apr 1982: World of Darkness, Asia's first nocturnal bird exhibit, opens.
1984: Flamingo Pool opens.30
1985: The Master Plan is launched.31
1986:  A new corporate logo and mission statement, as well as the quarterly children's magazine BirdLife, are launched.32
Jul 1987: The "Breakfast with the Birds" programme is introduced with the opening of the Songbird Terrace.33
1988: The Breeding and Research Centre is established.34
Jan 1988: Fuji Hawk Centre opens, and the King of the Skies show is launched.35
Apr 1988: New Entrance Plaza and Nature Theatrette opened by Tony Tan, then Minister for Education.
Jul 1988: Crowned Pigeon exhibit opens.
Mar 1989: Crane Paddock exhibit opens.
May 1989: The Flightless Birds Exhibit is opened by Wong Kan Seng, then Minister for Community Development and Foreign Affairs.
Aug 1990: The Hornbill and Toucan Exhibit is opened by Mah Bow Tan, then Minister for State (Trade and Industry, and Communications and Information).
Dec 1990: The upgraded Penguin Parade reopens.
1992: The Southeast Asian Birds Aviary, Birds of Paradise exhibit, Talking Birds exhibit, Pools Amphitheatre and Panorail system open; the All Star Birdshow is launched.36
1995: Breeding of the king penguin in captivity in the tropics is first recorded.37
1996: Parrot Paradise opens.38
1999: Jungle Jewels opens.39
2000: Lodge on Flamingo Lake opens.40
2006: Jurong Bird Park reopens after revamp. New exhibit, African Wetlands is unveiled along with Asia-Pacific’s first avian hospital.41
2014: Plans to relocate Bird Park to Mandai are announced.42

Selected awards and accolades43
1985:
Best Managed Tourist Attraction (Merit award), Tourism Awards Singapore Tourist Promotion Board.

1986: Outstanding Tourist Attraction, Tourism Awards, Singapore Tourist Promotion Board.
1993: Highly Commended, Tourism for Tomorrow International Awards, British Airways.
1995: Large Leisure Attraction of the Year, Tourism Awards, Singapore Tourism Board.
1998: Best Reference or Information Title or Site for Jungle Jewels Interactive, Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA).
1999, 2000: Leisure Attraction Category (Merit award), Tourism Host of the Year, Singapore Tourism Board.
2001: Best New Event (Silver award) for “A Black & White Affair – Dinner with the Penguins”, Pinnacle Awards, International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA).
2001: Breeders Award for the first captive breeding of Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, American Pheasant & Waterfowl Society.
2002: Excellence for Singapore Awards for Excellence in research, breeding, conservation efforts and providing a truly unique experience for its visitors, Singapore Totalisator Board.
2004: Best ASEAN New Tourist Attraction for Birds of Paradise, ASEANTA 2004 Excellence Awards.
2006: Top 10 Best Family Experiences for Feed the Lories, Tourism Awards, Singapore Tourism Board.
2006, 2007: Conservation & Research Award for the breeding of the Oriental pied hornbill, V International Symposium on Breeding Birds in Captivity (ISBBC).
2008: Michelin 2-star rating.
2012: Best Customer Service (Visitor Attraction category), STB Singapore Experience Award, Singapore Tourism Board.
2013: Meritorious Defence Partner Award, MINDEF Singapore.



Author

Nureza Ahmad



References
1. Leslie Fong, “Into a World of Sights and Sounds,” Straits Times, 3 January 1971, 18 (From NewspaperSG); Jurong Bird Park,” Singapore Tourism Board, accessed 9 October 2016.
2. “Jurong Bird Park: Fast Facts,” Wild Reserves Singapore Group, accessed 9 October 2016.
3. “Jurong Bird Park: Accreditation and Accolades,” Wild Reserves Singapore Group, accessed 9 October 2016; Fong, “Into a World of Sights and Sounds.”
4. ”Jurong Bird Park: Park Experience,” Wildlife Reserves Singapore Group, accessed 9 October 2016; Fong, “Into a World of Sights and Sounds.”
5. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1994), 10. (Call no. RSING 598.295957 ON)
6. “Goh Tells Why the Bird Park Was Built,” Straits Times, 4 January 1971, 15. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 10; “Goh Tells Why the Bird Park Was Built.”
8. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 12.
9. Yeo Toon Joo, “Work on $1 Mil. Aviary at Jurong,” Straits Times, 3 January 1969, 6; Leslie Fong, “Rainbow on the Falls on a Sunny Afternoon,” Straits Times, 3 January 1971, 20. (From NewspaperSG)
10. T. G. Yeoh and J. Wong, Jurong Bird Park (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1972), 7–11. (Call no. RSING 598.2 JUR)
11. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 18. 24.
12. “Loke Wan Tho Library for Bird Park,” Straits Times, 17 July 1971, 3; “Tribute to Bird Lover Loke,” Straits Times, 5 February 1972, 19; “Guide Book on Bird Park,” Straits Times, 8 March 1972, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 53.
14. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 22.
15. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 32; “House of Birds That Prey at Night,” (1982, April 4). Straits Times, 4 April 1982, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1985 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1986), 2, 9. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR])
17. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1986 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1987), 3, 7. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR]); Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1987 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1988), 3, 13–15. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR]); Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1990 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1991), 5. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR]); Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1993 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1994), 6. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR])
18. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1987 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1988), 3, 13–15. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR])
19. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 76, 78.
20. Sanjay Nair, “Jurong Bird Park Moving to Mandai: 5 Interesting Facts about Singapore’s Oldest Wildlife Park,” Straits Times, 1 June 2016. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website); Wild Reserves Singapore Group, “Jurong Bird Park: Fast Facts.”
21. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1989 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1990), 8. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR]); Loh Tuan Lee, “Flowers to Bloom at Birdpark,” New Paper, 23 February 1990, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
22. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1989, 2, 6; Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1990, 4, 8–9.
23. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1991 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1992), 4, 10–11. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR]); Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1992 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1993), 2, 7–8. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR]); Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1993, 6.
24. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 98/99 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1999), 4. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR]); Nair, “Jurong Bird Park Moving to Mandai.”
25. Krist Boo, “Take a Trip to Bird Park and Get a Taste of Botswana,” Straits Times, 11 July 2006, H4. (From NewspaperSG); Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Yearbook 2006/2007 (Singapore: Wildlife Reserves, 2007), 10.
26. “About the Parks: Jurong Bird Park – Where Colour Lives,” Wildlife Reserves Singapore, 2015; Nair, “Jurong Bird Park Moving to Mandai.”
27. Melissa Lin and Samantha Boh, “New Plans for Mandai Will Be ‘Sensitive to Area’,” Straits Times, 6 September 2014, 2–3; Nisha Ramchandani, “New Bird Park and Rainforest Attraction to Refresh Mandai,” Business Times, 2 June 2016, 3 (From NewspaperSG)
28. “Mandai Nature Precinct Will House two New Wildlife Parks,” Channel NewsAsia, 1 June 2016. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
29. Ramchandani, “New Bird Park and Rainforest Attraction to Refresh Mandai.”
30. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 12, 17, 18, 24, 35, 42.
31. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1985, 9, 14.
32. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1986, 8–9, 14.
33. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1987, 3.
34. “About the Parks: Jurong Bird Park – Where Colour Lives,” Wild Reserves Singapore Group, accessed 9 October 2016.
35. Jurong Bird Park, Annual Report 1988 (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1989), 6–7. (Call no. RCLOS 598.20740959 JBPAR–[AR])
36. Jurong Bird Park, On Wings of Excellence, 58, 60, 62, 90–96.
37. “Royal Treatment for First King Penguin Born in Tropics,” Straits Times, 18 February 1996, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
38. “Parrot Paradise Is Bird Park’s Latest Draw,” Straits Times, 12 February 1996, 24. (From NewspaperSG)
39. “Jungle Jewels Light Up Bird Park,” Straits Times, 11 December 1999, 76. (From NewspaperSG)
40. Lea Wee, “Flock to dinner With the Birds,” Straits Times, 16 January 2000, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
41. Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Yearbook 2006/2007, 10.
42. Lin and Boh, “New Plans for Mandai Will Be ‘Sensitive to Area’.” 
43. Wild Reserves Singapore Group, “Jurong Bird Park: Accreditation and Accolades.”



Further resources
11-Minute Ride is Fabulous, Says President,” Straits Times, 12 April 1992, 18. (From NewspaperSG)

Lee Snyder, Feathered Jewels: The Jurong Bird Park (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1995). (Call no. RSING 598.095957 SNY)

Winston Williams, Singapore's Fabulous Jurong Bird Park (Singapore: Jurong Bird Park, 1983). (Call no. RSING 598.2074095957 WIL)

Zoe Yeo, “How Jurong Bird Park was Hatched,” BiblioAsia (Jul–Sep 2021).



The information in this article is valid as at 13 October 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Aviaries--Singapore
Places of interest
Parks--Singapore