With most of the feathered residents settled in, Bird Paradise is almost ready to take flight. The successor to Jurong Bird Park will welcome guests in a soft opening on 8 May 2023, where visitors will see the newly revamped bird sanctuary alongside a colourful set of bird varieties. We saw the new bird park ahead of its soft launch, and here’s our “early bird” peek!
Jurong Bird Park may have been an iconic attraction for Singapore, but it’s one I’m not incredibly familiar with. Due to my mother’s aversion to birds, I’ve only ever visited the park a single time, and that was more than 15 years ago — my memories of it are hazy at best.
While I may only remember a little of Jurong Bird Park, Bird Paradise is hard to forget. The sprawling 17-hectare avian sanctuary is a special place to visit, with many unique experiences to discover. Here are some highlights from our visit.
Bird Paradise touts eight walk-through aviaries at the park, but what is more impressive is how unique each one is for visitors to experience.
The first one you’ll likely encounter is Heart of Africa, the largest aviary in the park at 1.55 hectares. The area is designed after the forest valleys of continental Africa, with suspension bridges taking you along the aviary.
It truly feels like I was in the forests of Africa, with tall trees lined up next to you as you walk through the aviary. But it isn’t all just greenery. Look over to the side, and you’ll also be able to see small river streams flowing through. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of ducks swimming along these streams.
Heart of Africa also presents specific sights for visitors to catch. Early in the area, you’ll find the bee-eater’s cliff; a unique architectural feature where I saw birds acrobatically diving to catch insects mid-air. Quite the experience to begin with!
Venturing further, there is also a viewing tower that you can climb. Here, I was able to get a great vantage point of the aviary to see how big the place was. It was also cool that the bridge to the tower features some buttons that play sounds as you walk and step on them.
Then there’s the Kuok Group Wings of Asia aviary, which differs greatly from what you get in the Heart of Africa. As the name suggests, the habitat is inspired by the environment of Southeast Asia.
The visual highlight of the aviary would be the sloping rice terraces. From the central pavilion area, I basked in the view of paddy fields as I saw the Australian Pelicans grazing along the shallow waters and had the beautiful sight of the flocks of Pied Imperial Pigeons flying through the air.
If you haven’t been to Thailand or Bali, coming here definitely feels as though you have visited these places in person yourself.
The last aviary that I want to gush about is the Hong Leong Foundation Crimson Wetlands. While the other aviaries have set pathways guiding you along the area, Crimson Wetlands is much more open, letting you explore in whichever direction you desire.
Crimson Wetlands’ landscape is reminiscent of South America, and like the continent, the area is a colourful display of pink and red. Of course, various species of macaws accentuate the vibrant look of the place, particularly the rainbow-feathered Scarlet Macaw.
The key feature of the aviary would be the 20m-tall waterfall right at the centre of the habitat. Not only does it take its likeness after the San Juan Curi waterfall in Colombia, but it is also a tribute to the iconic Waterfall Aviary back at the previous Jurong Bird Park.
It would take much too long to talk about the remaining aviaries at Bird Paradise, but each has its own unique experience that reflects different biomes of the world. When you enter a new one, you feel transported to another part of the globe.
Up close and personal with the birds
The design of the aviaries helps with getting immersed in the various habitats, but having it as a wide open space also aids in getting visitors close to the birds too.
Some birds are understandably shy, but many are eager to mingle with people at the aviaries. Walking through the areas, I get to see birds perch onto the railings of the pathways, almost as if they were there to greet us.
Given that Bird Paradise has larger aviaries in the new park, it provides the rare opportunity to see different species of birds mix together in one area. It’s something that Dr Luis Neves, vice president of animal care at Mandai Wildlife Group, was very enthusiastic about as he briefed us before the tour. It adds a uniquely colourful variety to the exploration of the park, seeing several distinct birds all in a single area.
There are also designated feeding sessions at the park, where you’ll see the incredible selection of the avian population congregating together for their meals. At the beep of the electric whistle, the flock assemble obediently as they await their food.
These feeding sessions are open to visitors to try as well. For S$8, you’ll be given some food for the birds — berries, fruits, fish, or if you aren’t squirmish, mealworms for you to hand-feed the beautiful flying creatures.
Integrated Dining Experiences
For the famished, Bird Paradise has several dining options to choose from. Outside the park, you can find fast–food from the likes of A&W, while Pavilion Banana Leaf provides hearty Indian fare. Drinks can also be grabbed from the nearby Starbucks or Cheers convenience store. Finally, if you are hankering for something sweet, the popular Birds of Paradise (very apt) offers a new gelato boutique and sandwich bar concept for customers to try.
Those are just a few of the stores that were available when we were there for the preview, with more expected when it officially launches. But more intriguing are the choices available within Bird Paradise.
The Penguin Cove Restaurant will definitely be one that visitors should check out. Located within the Ocean Network Express Penguin Cove underground level, you’ll be treated to a mesmerising view of the penguins swimming underwater as you feast on your meal. As for the food, the restaurant brings a buffet spread with local and international flavours that will leave people spoilt for choice.
Upstairs, there is a more relaxed cafe option serving penguin-themed pastries, which you can enjoy with the sight of penguins waddling around on the beach level of the Penguin Cove.
At the Crimson Wetlands, you can visit the Crimson Restaurant, which grants a scenic view of the aviary, with the best element being the stunning waterfall in the background. The menu is also specially crafted by local celebrity chef Eric Teo, which will surely mean that the food will also be great along with the view!
More traditional dining options are available such as Food Central, which is more like a food court with items like Hainanese chicken rice and Western food being sold. Still, these integrated dining experiences bring something you can only find here at Bird Paradise. I highly recommend checking them out for your visit.
That’s just some of the best highlights from Bird Paradise. There is more from the park that I could not talk about from my tour, such as the Treetop Play and Egg Splash playground areas. The preview also did not cover features that will be available come 8 May 2023, like the Animal Presentations at the 2,000-seater Sky Amphitheatre, among others — rest assured that there is a lot to look forward to!
Bird Paradise: Soft Opening
Date: 8 May to 26 May 2023
Location: 20 Mandai Lake Road, 729825
Price: S$38 for adults, S$23 for children aged 3-12, and S$20 for senior citizens. (Special rates for the soft opening period)
Opening Hours: 9am to 6pm daily, last admission at 5pm
Visitors can pre-book admission tickets ahead of the soft opening through the official Mandai Wildlife Reserve website.
Photos by Leo Chia of the DANAMIC Team. Additional visuals courtesy of Mandai Wildlife Group.