In yet another example of Singaporean irony, raw nature will once again be wrought into ‘parks’ packed with features, programmes, boardwalks, concrete and other bells and whistles. This time, it’s a swathe of Mandai whose fate is sealed: it will be home to an ‘integrated nature and wildlife destination’. At least it’s not an expressway or Super Duper Tree.
The Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari, already located in the precinct, will see new neighbours rise up beside it: the Rainforest Park and Bird Park. The entire attraction will span 126 hectares, and is billed as the city’s grand foray into eco-tourism. So, yes, there will be ‘eco-sensitive accommodation’, an indoor, nature-themed education centre, green public spaces, and an eco-bridge to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve that developers Mandai Safari Park Holdings hope animals will use in their commute home.
The new Bird Park, slated to relocate from Jurong by 2020, will house nine walk-in aviaries with landscapes that mimic those from around the world, like wetlands and bamboo forests. A research centre specialising in the conservation of endangered bird species – with a focus on those native to the region – is also among the facilities in the park.
The Rainforest Park, on the other hand, promises to immerse visitors in the rich flora and fauna of a tropical rainforest. We’re not exactly sure why an actual tropical rainforest ain’t good enough, but hey – this one will have forest floor pathways and, perhaps more impressively, paths that take you along the canopies. So there.
The Mandai nature precinct will open in phases from 2020.
EDIT: A previous version of this article stated that the new nature precinct will be located in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. That is incorrect. The precinct will be located in Mandai just outside the reserve, with the eco-bridge linking both areas. We apologise for the error.