Thursday, 16 April 2015

Jurong Bird Park: 1st Visit

I have thought about going to Jurong Bird Park for awhile, but it isn't on the top of my wish list. JBP's SG50 promotion had kicked it up a few places in the list. One ticket for unlimited entry for the year. So this sick bird can visit the park a 1/3 of a day at a time, and go there 3x. I can go more than that, but I don't want to take advantage of JBP.

Entrance, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
The front of JBP

Singapore GDP from 1970 to 2014
(click to enlarge)

JBP is Singapore very 1st zoo, opened in 1971. Singapore economy in the late 1960s were far far small than it is today, and because bird park is so much cheaper to own and operate than animal zoo. Birds are so much cheaper than lions and tigers. Bird seeds are so much more affordable than meat. Of course, the JBP had expanded considerably since and became the largest bird park in the world in terms of bird numbers (and 2nd largest in terms of bird species). And Singapore have built a great number of zoos (and museums, parks, etc) in the last decades as its GDP rocketed to give locals places for leisure and as a nice bonus, also gave tourism a boost.

Right after the entrance is a cave like enclosure. I could feel the nice cool air as I approached it. Once inside, I was greeted by polar birds. I didn't expect it. Some of these so called polar birds actually live in quite temperate climate zone. I'm talking about Fairy Penguins (that's what the Aussies call them, the Kiwis (the people, not the birds) call them Little Blue Penguins), these cutest of all penguins could be seen in Manly Beach in Sydney (not that I ever did. The biologist keep their dwelling a secret to stop too many prying eyes disturbing their natural habitats). In fact, they live much further north of Sydney all the way to Queensland, and it's within a spitting distance of the Tropic of Capricorn).

Tourist operators in Melbourne Australia setup tours for visitors to watch the famous Fairy Penguin Parade in Philip Island where these cute penguins make their daily march from the ocean back towards their home at dusk after daily catches. I attended one of those tours decades back when the tourist crowded wasn't so big (before the internet).

But then there're also the African Penguins (they're related to the Humboldt Penguins). How cold can Africa get?

Signboard, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Signboard, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

According to the exhibit signboard above, the exhibits supposedly include Fairy Penguins. I looked back at my photos, and couldn't see any. Maybe they're so small that they escape the cross-hair of my camera (nope, my camera doesn't have cross-hair. But I can do cross-eyes). This gives me another reason to go back and check them out in my next visit.

The closest penguins (in terms of size and appearance) that I could find are the Humboldt Penguins. The following 4 photos are Humboldt Penguins that are identified by their black arches across their breasts. The arches grow larger as they age.

Like dogs, they open their mouths to cool themselves. Pointing their mouths skywards would increase heat dissipation.

Humbodt Penguins, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Humbodt Penguins, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Humbodt Penguins, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Humbodt Penguins, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

According to this police line-up picture that ranks the usual suspects according to size, the Little or Fairy Penguins are the smallest (and thus the cutest. Although Giant Panda is pretty cute too).

Penguin Coast ExhibitHumbodt Penguins, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Penguins ranked by sizes

Right next to the Penguin Coast Exhibit are the parrot exhibit. Seems like parrots - unlike penguins -don't like the cold, and aren't native to the colder geography of N. America, Europe, and North Asia. Well, these feathered friends will find Singapore climate right at home. Yeah birdies.

Sun Parakee, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Sun parakeet (S. American native) getting a drink
Blue and Yellow Macaw, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Blue and Yellow (or Gold) macaw. Another S. American natives

Scarlet Macaw, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Scarlet macaw (obviously quite closely related to the Blue and Gold macaw)
The macaw face markings while look the same to us are in fact as unique as our fingerprints (and our fingerprints do look very similar to each other).


Park map, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Click to enlarge

After the visit to the Penguin Coast and the Parrot Exhibits, I realised it was 2:50pm, and the High Flyers Show was on in the Pools Amphitheatre at 3pm. It was quite close to the park entrance, and so I flew there like a bird.

Some audience participation in the High Flyers Show. Viewers quickly posed like scarecrows because the birds like to land on them (no crows in the show).

High Flyers Show, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore High Flyers Show, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
High Flyers Show, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore High Flyers Show, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

Oriental Pied Hornbill, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Oriental Pied Hornbill's "housing inspection".
Looks at the hole. likes it, occupies it. Although
it's more accurately to call it a bachelor pad.
(click to enlarge)
Oriental Pied Hornbill, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

High Flyers Show, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Scarlet macaw flew through a small hoop. Note how large its wingspan is relative to the hoop.

High Flyers Show, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
This Aussie is a money grabber. It snatched a S$2 bill from the visitor's hand.
The Yellow-crested cockatoo is very common in Australia.
At least in Sydney where they can be seen in many places outside the zoos, and can be quite loud.

Of course, I've NEVER passed up a chance to share the time showing on a sundial when I come across one. My mission - if I choose to accept it - is to find the most accurate sundial, and then buy it. I'll wear it on my wrist.

Sundial, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
 This sundial is located just outside the Pools Amphitheatre.
Sundial, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

The time on this sundial shows 3:35pm while the timestamp on my photo says 3:30pm. It's only off by 5 mins. This is just about the most accurate sundial I've came across thus far (at this time of the year. Other time may be more or less accurate). Looks way cooler than a chronometer watch. The only trouble is, should I wear it on my left or right wrist? Should I hang a "Do Not Touch" sign? All difficult decisions.



Scarlet Ibis, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Scarlet Ibis, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore
Scarlet Ibis, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Scarlet Ibis, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore

These series of 4 photos give scientific evidence (let's call them Exhibit "A") that Hokkien people aren't the only ones who enjoy fish heads or tails (in their beehoon soups), the scarlet ibis also likes it too (they just don't bother with beehoon). They even fight for it as the photo below clearly shows (Exhibit "B").

Scarlet Ibis, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore


I told myself I'm going to visit this place 3 or 4 times. And so I was going to see only 1/3 of this park today, but I ended up seeing about 1/2 of it. Damn my cursed efficiency (which I only have Singaporean to blame as I become Singaporeanised: punctual and efficient).

I'll promise myself I'll be a lot more laid back (less efficient and more procrastinate) in my next visit, seeing only the restaurant in the park, spending more time nibbling on kaya toast, sipping teh C kosong, and then maybe, I'll have a look at a couple of bird exhibits after wiping the crumbs off my mouth slowly. I'll take a disciplined and efficient approach towards the spirit of laid-back. Peace man...

Early bird gets the worms, but I don't eat worms (but I'll certainly like to try it if there's a restaurant in Singapore serving it in my favourite sauce. I probably has to go to Thailand for that).



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