In about three years, birdwatchers can enjoy watching feathered fowl from the rainforests of Africa, the flooded savannahs of South and Central America and the Australian bushland, all in Singapore.
They need only to pay a visit to the new Bird Park in Mandai, when the park, relocated from its current premises in Jurong, opens its doors to the public.
The new park will allow visitors to be immersed in multiple landscapes and vegetation so that they can see the birds just as they would in the wild. The birds will also be flying freely in large aviaries within the new park, a move that will heighten the experience for visitors.
HORNBILLS & PARROTS
Colourful birds of paradise, orange-beaked hornbills and vocal parrots are some of the birds that will be part of the avian collection, which is one of the most significant to date.
These details were given by developer Mandai Park Holdings yesterday during a ceremony to celebrate the start of the development work on the hub of the five wildlife parks it is building in leafy Mandai.
Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), was the guest of honour.
The Bird Park, as well as a new Rainforest Park, will join the existing trio of attractions there - the Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Night Safari.
The hub, which will also include accommodation options, is expected to fully commence operations by 2023, with earlier phases, including the opening of the Bird Park, to be done by 2020.
The Bird Park, Singapore Zoo, River Safari and Night Safari offer visitors the experience of walking through habitats from all over the world. But at the Rainforest Park, the focus will be on South-east Asian biodiversity.
Animals that live in rainforests - from below the ground to the tree canopies - will have their time in the spotlight.
The park will take visitors on a journey from an underground cavern to boardwalks at the ground level and up ramps to aerial walkways that reach the tree canopies, where they can interact with arboreal apes.
There will also be trekking and adventure activities at the new park.
"We plan to offer highly differentiated experiences at each of our five wildlife parks, augmented by indoor displays and a variety of food and beverage offerings," said Mr Mike Barclay, chief executive of Mandai Park Holdings.
The massive Mandai makeover will include public spaces, such as green landscaped decks for picnics and boardwalks along the edge of Upper Seletar Reservoir, which can be used by the public free of charge.
These plans, as well as the results from an Environmental Impact Assessment, have been approved by the Government.
"Reviews and discussions on Mandai's rejuvenation have been going on for several years with various stakeholders. With the necessary government approvals now obtained, we are delighted to mark this milestones with our partners today," said Mandai Park Holdings chairman S. Dhanabalan.
The Mandai area sits right outside the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, and nature groups had voiced concerns that development works could negatively impact the wildlife.
But Mandai Park Holdings stressed that the development will be done sensitively. For one, the development will take place on degraded land.
It also voluntarily commissioned an Environment Impact Assessment, following which changes were made to development plans.
One of the most significant is the swopping of locations of the new Rainforest Park and Bird Park - this puts the bulk of the Rainforest Park to the north, instead of the south of Mandai Lake Road, where there are more mature trees that can be incorporated into the park.
It also agreed to have a vegetated buffer area between the park boundaries and the nature reserve, ensuring that the development will not go right up to the fringes of the reserve.
This article by The Straits Times was published in The New Paper, a free newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.