Over 100 staff members from Mandai Wildlife Reserve – from operations and technical services to veterinary and animal care – have been busy making the big move from Jurong to Mandai and preparing the new bird park for its upcoming soft opening on 8 May 2023.
Moving the Birds from Jurong Bird Park to Mandai
With hundreds of bird species to move, planning for the move from Jurong Bird Park to the new facility in Mandai took more than a year to strategise for the wide range of bird species, each with differing needs.
The process involved planning the necessary steps, determining the possible risks and actions needed to actively mitigate them, while establishing the best sequence to conduct the move.
It has been all hands on deck for the Avian Care, Animal Behaviour and Programmes, Veterinary Healthcare teams who have been core to the massive undertaking in moving over 3,000 birds from Jurong Bird Park to their new home in Mandai Wildlife Reserve.
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One of the critical steps was conditioning the birds to the holding areas as well as transport crates that would eventually be used to transfer them.
The process involves using positive reinforcement training through a reward – usually food – to encourage the bird to voluntarily enter the crates or pet boxes and get accustomed to being inside.
These efforts allowed the keepers to retrieve the birds and transport them in a stress-free manner on moving day.
In December 2022, the teams underwent tabletop exercises and dry runs to simulate every step of the massive move. They role-played the different actions and duties required for the move, from handling the birds, equipment checks and accurate labelling of transport crates to loading up the crate on the vehicles, as well as performing veterinary checks.
Driving rehearsals were also conducted to help the drivers familiarise themselves with the travel route and plan for safety measures that may be activated, such as in the event of a vehicle breakdown.
Settling in to Bird Paradise
Amongst the early birds to move into Bird Paradise were the parrots, hornbills, birds of prey, and other species from the avian presentations and they have since settled in well.
At the Sky Amphitheatre, the Animal Behaviour and Programmes team have started to condition the birds to the new amphitheatre stage which includes an LED wall feature to enhance the storytelling elements.
The new amphitheatre has also been designed for raptors like the White-bellied Sea Eagle to make longer flights, while other species can take off from higher platforms to showcase flights from heights that were not previously possible at Jurong Bird Park.
At Hong Leong Foundation Crimson Wetlands, the animal care team is working with the macaws while the starlings at Heart of Africa are being trained to respond to audio cues and gather at a designated area for keepers to conduct headcounts.
Home, Tweet Home
Dr Luis Neves, Vice President of Animal Care, Mandai Wildlife Group, said, “More than 2,000 hours later and having covered distances of more than 1,800 kilometres since January, three-quarters of the birds have now been moved safely. The birds are adapting well to the new environment – most are curiously exploring their habitats, some were quick to feast on new varieties of fruit trees in the aviaries, while others got down to weaving nests on tree branches – these are all the beginnings of feeling at home at Bird Paradise. Our priority is to help them settle in and ultimately, we want to see that the birds are enjoying great welfare and adjusting well to their new habitats.”
Find out more about what to expect at the new Bird Paradise.