Since the late ‘90s, I have visited the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore three times. It came as a surprise therefore when I read several successive articles on the new Bird Paradise opening in Mandai back in May.
Birds have always fascinated me ever since I was a second grader, starting when my Yaya gave me a Philippine Blue Nape parrot from her native Tacloban when she came back from her vacation. Over the years, I have kept as companions Philippine Cockatoos, a Green Wing Macaw I bought from one of my trips to Singapore, several mutations of Parakeets, Budgies, African Love Birds, African Greys, Mynahs, Grass Parakeets, Eclectus Parrots, Sun Conures, Alexandrines, and Ringneck Parrots.
I can confidently say my love for birds has always been a source of excitement and joy for me.
NEW AND UNFAMILIAR
I then knew I would visit the new Bird sanctuary someday; what I didn’t expect was to be visiting it less than a month after it opened to the viewing public.
It was so new that the cab driver automatically brought me to the old Jurong Bird Park even if I gave him the name, “Bird Paradise Mandai.” He only looked at the piece of paper when, upon pulling up in an empty driveway at the old park, I told him, “Uncle, we are in the wrong Bird park, we need to go to Mandai.” Only then did he enter the name Bird Paradise in his Waze app!
Well, next time he has passengers to the bird park, he knows where it is.
The entrance to Mandai’s Paradise for Birds is amazing! There is a huge drop off area for passengers to disembark, carved out from a hill. This entrance also accommodates parking for private cars, taxi queues, and a bus terminal.
From there, you are slowly introduced to the 17.3 hectares domain of Singapore’s finest Bird collection. Today, it contains 3,500 Birds from 400 different species.
A welcome series of caves await the anxious Bird watchers, complete with a huge waterfall to cool down the temperature for those tourists who are not used to Singapore’s hot and humid weather. You can sense the excitement from young and old alike.
We got an 11 a.m. entry set of tickets as it was a Saturday and the park controls the inflow of visitors for very good reasons.
At first glance, one would feel that the new avian adventure is so much bigger than the old Bird park. In reality, though, this Bird sanctuary is three hectares smaller than the Jurong Bird Park.
Why management controls the inflow of visitors and why the first impression is that it’s a much larger place is rooted in the fact that most of their Birds are inside huge walk-in aviaries. Thus, my expectation that it would be similar to Jurong was immediately extinguished. Truly a marvel of a man-made bird paradise, the people managing this aviary had the welfare of Birds in mind more than the people that would be walking through its multiple aviaries.
That people come face to face with the Birds, with no cages in between, was something of great surprise to me. First of all, it must have taken years to plant thousands of trees and plants that are now fully grown, sheltering various Bird species at different times of the day. Walking through several kilometers of walkways and observation decks all throughout the park gives one a real sense of what Birds enjoy in their natural habitat.
I tip my hat off to the scientists and Bird keepers who designed and built this sanctuary. They have made it possible for both Bird and human to come together and interact in a very natural setting.
A CHANCE TO RECHARGE
After an hour and a half walk, one feels the Singapore heat and must seek rest and shelter in one of their various well-appointed restaurants and kiosks. These rest havens are strategically placed all along the various sections of the park to ensure the visitors’ well-being and needs.
The food offered is fresh and served expeditiously to the hungry patrons. Just like their Bird collection, these restaurants can satisfy one’s hunger.
After you feel rested and energized, off you go again to another walk-in aviary to see different Birds who are endemic to various sections of the earth.
In order to enjoy the paradise, go with your family or friends. This way, your visit will not only be educational but also be filled with memories.
My last stop on my way out was their gift shop that holds sustainability as its mantra. While you will see the usual souvenirs and t-shirts for sale, the shop is not lacking in reminding everyone that we have a God-given earth and that all its beauty and splendor needs to be shared for many more generations to come — a paradise for birds but, just as importantly, a paradise for people.
The Singaporean people have done it again in terms of delivering a clear message to love our environment and be responsible in preserving it! Mandai’s Bird Paradise is for you; it is for everyone.
PERHAPS NOT FOR MONETARY GAIN
You could actually feel the excitement from the visitors, young and old alike. That such a huge set of aviaries was possible gives justice to the entrance fee worth SGD 48.
In fact, I am sure their gate revenues do not even come near their annual maintenance cost. It is evident that several banks, corporations, and trust funds were set up in order to sustain various sections of the park. So as not to spoil the fun at this early stage of the paradise’s existence, I shall not get into details but rather, I will let the pictures of the park speak for themselves.