Jurong Bird Park’s latest exhibit is a retirement home for elder birds

The oldest bird in the exhibit is a 60-year-old Egyptian vulture.

Jeremy Na

Just like that Khalid song, Young, dumb and broke. Ok maybe not dumb but definitely the other two.

Published: 15 October 2020, 7:01 PM

Do you ever wonder about what birds do when they retire? Or do birds even work to need to retire?

According to Jurong Bird Park, they do! Its latest exhibit is a new aviary open to the public where birds from the Kings of The Skies show go once they’ve reached their retirement age.

This new spacious area is equipped with ropes and branches of varying heights to suit the needs and movement capabilities of the older birds.

The aviary houses eight different birds from six different species. These birds were the first to participate in the Kings of The Skies, which showcases the birds’ natural high-flying behaviours.

This cohabitation allows for greater physical and mental for these aging birds to keep them sharp.

Due to the lack of natural dangers as well as access to high quality healthcare, these birds have lived long beyond their natural lifespans in the wild. For example, the park’s oldest bird, Rod Stewart the Egyptian Eagle, is estimated to be close to 60 years old, way beyond its natural lifespan of 21 years. It was hatched in the early 1960s.

Rod Stewart the Egyptian Eagle is estimated to be close to 60 years old, almost triple his expected lifespan in the wild. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE


Some of the other birds include American Black Vultures siblings Carlos and Jose who were hatched in 1998. 

Another bird, 22-year-old Turkey Vulture International, was retired Kings of The Skies this year and will enjoy its golden years in the comfort of the aviary. The average lifespan of a turkey vulture in the wild is 16 years.

International is a 22-year-old turkey vulture that is set to retire from the Kings of The Skies show this year. PHOTO CREDIT: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE


The longer lifespans are due to Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s (WRS) policy that all animals that have reached at least 75 per cent of their lifespans are allocated a health plan catered specifically to each bird. 

Dr Cheng Wen Haur, Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer, of Wildlife Reserves Singapore hopes that by opening up this aviary to the public, guests can appreciate these elderly animals and learn how modern zoos care for them.

“Like humans, animals face similar aging 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 and to ensure the aging animals continue to have a good quality of life as they enter their twilight years.” said Dr Cheng.


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