I was dreading my visit to Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park. Did I really want to be physically attacked by giant, flapping things? No.
If there’s one animal I fear more than fear itself, it’s pigeons. I was besieged by a whole flock of pigeons whilst travelling in Europe. So I’ve now come to stereotype all birds as “flying-poo-bombs”.
Surprisingly, after my visit, I realise there’s a lot more to these balls of fluff and feathers than I expected.
Arriving at Jurong Bird Park in the early afternoon on a weekday, all is calm. No throngs of tourists, tour buses or long queues for taxis, exiting the park. This could be attributed to how isolated the park is to other Singapore attractions like the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari.
Approximately 400 different species of birds can be found in this vast park. Wondering how to conquer this mammoth of a park, my friend and I walked over to the Membership Services counter (next to the ticketing booth) to ask for a map.
Jurong Bird Park is a maze of trees, so planning your route around is really important. Take note of the various showtimes and feeding times (located on the map) to help facilitate your trip for the day!
We chose to walk through the park to see how many exhibits we could cover on foot. The visit then doubles up as a hike in addition to seeing the various species of birds and learning about them. Tram rides are also available if walking is not your thing.
Prices are S$3 for children below three years old, and S$5 for everyone else.
We were determined to make it for most of the shows and feeding opportunities, starting with the Pelican Chit Chat at Pelican Cove.
The “chit-chat” session starts with an introduction of the different breeds of pelicans as well as where they originated from. A keeper feeds the pelicans throughout the introduction so visitors can marvel and watch how large a pelican’s beak can expand when it dives for food underwater.
There’s also a quiz at the end of the session where you can gain access to feeding the pelicans for free! Don’t worry though, anyone can feed them. Just pay S$2 and you can make a pelican (or multiple) very happy.
Feeding for the pelicans occurs at the nearby jetty. Pelicans eagerly await visitors with soulful eyes, pleading for fish. You might get the occasional bird-fight if you’re lucky.
I was completely fine watching the pelicans being fed. Knowing they wouldn’t be flying directly towards me and using me as a toilet made me feel comforted.
The next exhibit we went to? Not so much.
Supposedly simulating a tropical rainforest, the Waterfall Aviary has multiple bird breeds just freely flying and wandering around.
Walking through the heavy beaded curtains, the realisation that the birds would be perching on my hand, and that I’d have to feed them finally sunk in.
Feedings occur twice a day here, and visitors can purchase a small container of big or small mealworms at S$2 to feed the birds.
The prayers in my head whilst I held the container of mealworms and waited with bated breath mainly consisted of “please don’t poop on me” and “please don’t drop the worms on my hand”.
Surprisingly, I got used to having the birds land on the container. Still didn’t mean that I’d be fine with bird poo on me after the encounter though.
Sidenote, beware the peacocks. They eat like they’re attacking prey and all the worms end up on the floor. Glamorous but not gentle, at all.
Penguins are possibly one of the few birds I’m alright with. They always look so formal with their black and white “tuxedos”. Honestly, they dress better than some of the boys I know.
Feeding these tiny African penguins costs just S$2. All the money that comes from the feedings ends up being donated to the Wildlife Reserves Fund.
The Penguin Coast in Jurong Bird Park is right by the entrance. You can’t miss it!
After feeding the African penguins in the external enclosure, watch the keeper feed the Emperor and Humboldt penguins inside the main enclosure.
It’s the cutest sight watching them waddle after the keeper in a line while she tries to grab fish from the back room.
From sea to land, these kings of the sky are my favourite birds. Vultures, eagles and hawks you name it.
It’s always a wonder to watch these birds fly swiftly and silently through the air. The Kings of the Skies show in the Hawk Arena allows you to see what these birds are capable of. If you’re quick at participating, you might even get to hold a vulture!
It’s definitely one of the shows not to be missed. The birds showcase their hunting skills and their flight abilities. In addition, the trainers love answering questions after the show’s over; so you can expand your knowledge as well!
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Breeding and Research Centre that’s right next door. Here you can see how they care for injured birds and breed certain species.
This nine-storey, high enclosure packed with lush greenery and tiny lories and lorikeets. They might resemble miniature parrots, but they only eat honey and nectar.
Let these mischievous little guys flitter and tweet about you and use your head as a landing platform. It’s nice to see the occasional pop of vibrancy amongst the commonality of brown, black and grey birds.
The Lory Loft is quite a hike up and away from the entrance. Escape the humidity at the Bird Discovery Centre before hopping on the tram to ride back to the entrance.
My verdict? It’s definitely an educational trip, yet seemingly nostalgic. Not having visited since I was a child, returning brought back some incredible childhood memories.
The best part? Aside from somewhat beating my fear of pigeons (fear’s gone, hatred still remains), I finally figured out what my problem was; bigger birds interest me more.
Alight at Boon Lay MRT (East-West Line, Tuas Link bound), Take 194 from Boon Lay bus interchange or hop on the Safari Gate bus from Suntec City (Return trip, S$12, One-way, S$7) Tickets can be purchased at Safari Gate, Suntec City.
Ticket Prices: S$30 for adults, S$20 for children (3-12 years old), S$14 for Senior citizens (60 and above) or save up to 15% when you buy online
Opening Hours: 8.30am to 6pm (last entry at 5.30pm)