Prescott is performing at the Shanghai Improv Festival (that’s the amazing sort of thing you can say when you live on this side of the world), so I spent the afternoon on an adventure I knew he wouldn’t miss: visiting the Jurong Bird Park. This park — the brainchild of a Singaporean finance minister in the late 1960s — has 5,000 birds of 400 different species. It has owls and ostriches, hornbills and hawks, parrots and peacocks and puffins and penguins (and yes, the penguins have fake snow).
It’s pretty remarkable. It’s loud, just like you would expect a bird park to be, and very green (it’s run by the same organization that owns the zoo). My favorite parts were the giant free-flight aviaries, where birds zip around overhead, you can search out cool nests, and you might turn a corner and run into something like this just two feet away:
I’m sure that real birders would disdain bird spottings at a place like this, but I got pretty excited every time I saw something new.
I spent a lot of time watching the pelicans, which are remarkable both in flight and in the water.
The park also has, unexpectedly, the tallest waterfall in Singapore. It may also be the only waterfall in Singapore, as far as I know, and it’s manmade, so I’m not sure it even counts. But it gives the park something to brag about.
I paid for the privilege of being attacked by about twelve lories — small parrots from Australia — because it looked like too much fun to resist. Basically, this involves buying a little cup of rice in water for $3 and then being descended upon by a mass of feet and feathers. You can see that I go from amusement …
… to consternation …
… to fear that I might lose an earring …
… to finally just taking time to admire the little birds on the cup in my hand.
And a day at a park wouldn’t be complete without my finding some new species of flower to admire:
All in all, it was a good outing. I do have reservations about keeping birds in cages — it’s the same problem I have with zoos, at some level — but there are good arguments to be made for conservation and education. And it’s wonderful to be able to see birds that, by and large, I’ll never see anywhere else.