Jurong Bird Park was opened on 3rd January 1971 by Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Minister of Defence. It is now the largest bird park in the world with 20 hectares of land area for about 5000 birds with 380 species. One of its main attraction is the bird show.
Fast rewind 40 years back, I brought my family to Jurong Bird Park for the first time. My children were all below 10 years old then. We did not know what attractions there were at a bird park. But, we knew for sure that there were many birds to feast our eyes. It was a hot sunny day and we were sweating profusely. The children enjoy running around the big open space but I was looking in vain for a shade. There was not a single tree that was good enough to provide a cover for us to cool down. Maybe the instant trees in the public parks today were not implemented yet. The black and white photos below showed the bird park's wide open ground without trees. I remember there was a aviary with a waterfall within it. All the big birds were in cages but the flamingoes and the pelicans had their own pools. The penguins were in a special enclosure. The children loved to watch them walked in a swinging motion before diving into the water. There was a tram with a few open carriages for a quick look around of the park. We preferred to walk and see the birds at close range.
Recently, we visited the bird park with my son and his family. It was a nostalgic visit after 40 years. My son was a boy then. During the recent visit he brought his 2 children with him. It is like history repeating itself. The present bird park is a world of difference from the 70s. The bird park now has many tall trees and there is no lack of shady places whether under the trees or at the eateries. An above ground panorail (monorail) has replaced the tram for a quick look around. In addition there are a few golf carts with a guide each for hire. We booked one golf cart to cover as many attractions as possible as we wanted to avoid the afternoon heat. The cart driver was also our tour guide. She gave commentaries about the birds such as their country of origin, species, habitats etc. We were wiser at the end of the tour. The two main attractions for us were feeding the birds and the bird show. I do not remember there was a bird show in 1971. I enjoyed the visit and wonder when will be the next one.