Parting glances: a final look at Jurong Bird Park

8 01 2023

The opening of the heavens over Jurong late on Tuesday (3 January 2023), just as Jurong Bird Park was an hour or so short of shutting its doors for a final time was a poignant reminder of the sadness that was attached to the event. The deluge that its brought seemed very much like a torrent of tears that was being shed from up above. The park, which opened on the very day 52 years to the day it was to close for good, seemed to have a life to celebrate cut short, a life during which it left an impression on many young and old, gained a worldwide reputation and became the face to an otherwise grey and unfashionable Jurong.

The brainchild of the visionary Dr Goh Keng Swee, Singapore’s first post-independence wildlife attraction, seemed an unlikely attraction when it first opened in 1971. Located on the fringes of the heavily industrial west of Singapore, the bird park was like the industrial estate whose image it was to soften, a resounding success story. Boasting what was then the world’s largest walk-in aviary, the Waterfall Aviary, within which one also found the world’s tallest man-made waterfall, there was much to draw the visitor. It soon became a popular spot for family outings, school excursions and an attraction that put Singapore on the tourist map.

A last look at the Waterfall Aviary

The bird park, which drew 41 million visitors throughout its 52 years of operation, attracted more than 30,000 in its last five days of operation, with 2,600 guests taking in the sights, sounds and shows on its final day. While the closure does spell the end for Jurong Bird Park as we have known it, it is not the end of the road for the staff and the park’s feather residents as the attraction is being reincarnated as Mandai Bird Paradise. The Bird Paradise is scheduled to begin operations in the second quarter of 2023.

The finale of the very last High Flyers Show
Hard to say goodbye …

A flamboyance of flamingoes takes one of its final flights in Jurong.
Mr Clarence Saw at the last of Jurong Bird Park’s show — just before the downpour.
A last look at Penguin Coast.
Staff of Jurong Bird Park taking a last photograph.
A last look at the great pied hornbill in its enclosure.
Tears from the heavens.
A last photograph in the rain on the suspension bridge.
The last High Flyers show.
A last look at the quite lush and verdant Waterfall Aviary.
Hornbill viewing.
A last look at what was once the world’s tallest manmade waterfall.
A view of the waterfall from the suspension bridge.
A last climb to a look out point in the Waterfall Aviary.
Last gifts for last day guests.
A last look at the entrance to the Waterfall Aviary.
A last dance with the birds at the Pools Amphitheatre.
The crowd at the last King of the Skies show and very last show at Jurong Bird Park.
A last opportunity to “mingle” with the avian residents at the Pools Amphitheatre.
Last chance to get up close at the African Treetops.
A hornbill wows the crowd at the last High Flyers show,
The foraging Raoul, a southern-crested caracara at the King of the Skies show.
A greater flamingo.
A migratory stork in the greater flamingo enclosure. While the storks are non-residents at the bird park, they were regular visitors who came for food and were fed along with the other birds.
A giant pied hornbill.
A violet back starling feeding at African Treetops aviary.
A bearded barbet at African Treetops.
A sun conure at the last High Flyers show on an enrichment device.
A last exit.
A last look.
Even Jurong Hill park seems to have been closed.
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2 responses

8 01 2023
john ting

do you know who did the original masterplan for Jurong Bird Park? I do….

10 01 2023
popchartfreak

How sad! I have fond memories and loads of colour slides from 1971 not long after it opened. My family loved the walk in aviary and waterfall…

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