SINGAPORE – Retired birds from Jurong Bird Park Kings of the Skies show will now enjoy the rest of their golden years in a new aviary open to the public.
Situated next to the Hawk Arena, Jurong Bird Park’s latest exhibit has been built for a special group of birds under its care - the park’s pioneer generation of birds that have retired from the Kings of the Skies show.
The new aviary will have a spacious area with perches made from ropes and branches placed in strategic points around the enclosure. To suit the individual needs and movement capabilities of its older residents, which is home to eight birds of prey across six other species including eagles and vultures, the perches will be placed at varying heights.
Birds with compatible personalities are housed together in this mixed-species aviary to encourage positive interactions and coexist amicably. Inter-species interactions between the inhabitants can create a more dynamic space with higher activity levels, which makes for enrichment to stimulate the ageing birds mentally and physically, Jurong Bird Park shared in a media release.
The oldest resident at the senior aviary is Rod Stewart, an Egyptian vulture who is estimated to have hatched in the early 1960s making him close to 60 years old. With an average of 21-year lifespan for this species in the wild, Rod has lived way beyond his life expectancy and is said to remain “spritely for his age and likes to roam about the ground level of the exhibit.”
American black vulture siblings Carlos and Jose are also residents of the new retirement aviary. Hatched in 1998, the 22-year-olds receive daily medication hidden in their food to manage arthritis in their feet and to keep them active. They are otherwise in good physical condition, preferring to fly to the higher perches of the aviary.
Being former stars of the Kings of the Skies show, the residents of the retirement aviary have played an integral role in raising awareness of threats faced by their wild counterparts and spreading conservation messages to guests. As ambassador animals in part during their earlier years, these retirees will continue to lead a good life at the aviary in their golden years under the watchful care of their keepers.
“Like humans, animals face similar ageing health issues such as arthritis, muscle atrophy, vision, and hearing loss as they get older. Our senior animal care plan seeks to improve the ‘healthspan’ of the animals by slowing the onsets of these age-related diseases so the ageing animals will continue to have a good quality of life as they enter their twilight years. By opening the aviary to public, we hope guests can appreciate these elderly animals and learn how modern zoos care for them,” said Dr Cheng Wen Haur, Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
All the animals under the four parks at Wildlife Reserves Singapore are placed under a senior animal care plan when they reach 75% of their expected lifespan. Without needing to fend off predators, diseases, or struggling to find enough food at their golden ages, animals under human care tend to live longer compared to their wild relatives. Having access to healthcare and essential life resources, the senior animals are also well taken care of by keepers and handlers.
Opened in 1971, Jurong Bird Park is Asia’s largest bird park and is highly dedicated to the conservation of threatened species. The park also houses the most advanced avian hospital in the Asia Pacific region and is the designated centre for rescued birdlife in Singapore.