KUALA LUMPUR: In an age when digital gadgets has overtaken the lure of the great outdoors, many Malaysian children are oblivious to what the world has to offer.
More often than not, children raised in urban households have only witnessed the beauties of nature on a screen.
Rather than just letting children learn about birds from websites and YouTube videos, perhaps it is time to take them on a trip to one of Kuala Lumpur’s hidden gems.
The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, located in the grounds of the Perdana Botanical Gardens, is often ignored in favour of a visit to a shopping mall.
Established in 1991, the 21-acre park is home to 3,000 birds of 200 different species, spread out in four zones. About 60% of the birds are from other countries, while the remaining 40% are local species.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has curtailed the number of foreign visitors, local families can still be seen in the park, often with children in tow.
Even without the avian inhabitants, the park is beautiful, with lush greenery and watering holes making the picturesque valley the perfect draw for shutterbugs.
It is carefully designed to allow people of all ages to safely navigate its paths, with railings available for senior citizens and ramps for wheelchair-bound visitors.
The birds that fly and roost freely throughout the park are, of course, the main attraction. And compared to the suffocating concrete jungle right outside, the park is bird heaven.
The KL Bird Park is actually the world’s largest free flight walk-in aviary.
This means that as soon as visitors pass through the first set of doors, they will find themselves in a giant aviary where birds are free to fly anywhere and to do as they wish.
Curious visitors can actually get close to the birds to admire their beauty and colour without having them cooped up in uncomfortable cages.
All kinds of birds call the park home, including small and shy bulbuls and intimidatingly towering ostriches.
Peacocks, with their beautiful plumage unfurled, can be found aplenty throughout the park as well as herons, storks, egrets and pelicans.
Most of these birds are friendly, if somewhat shy, and are more than happy to strike a pose for the camera-toting visitor.
However, it should be noted that visitors must maintain their distance from the birds. Just because they are friendly does not mean they appreciate being touched, much less roughed up.
Visitors should be aware that the bird park is not a petting zoo and mishandling a goose is likely to result in painful pecks as well as outraged honks.
In addition to being free to fly anywhere they wish within their aviary; the birds can interact with their own kind and procreate. Keep an eye out for natural nests high up in the tree branches, or watch birds picking up twigs to build a new home.
At specific time slots throughout the day, the park staff feed the birds and visitors can ask whatever questions they have.
For that matter, the staff of KL Bird Park welcome any enquiry regarding the park and its feathery inhabitants and do their best to answer all questions.
So, which birds attract the most attention? The park’s mascot is the hornbill, and it is these birds, the emblem of Sarawak, that attract the most attention. With their unique looks, it is unsurprising to see why this is the case.
Other than watching the birds in their natural habitat, there is also a bird show held in the amphitheatre at 12.30pm and 3.30pm daily.
With parrots and macaws performing simple but fun tricks, the show is certainly one for parents wishing to keep the children entertained.
In addition, for a small price, visitors can preserve their memories posing with birds atop their shoulders or even their heads at the photo booth.
And the Hornbill Restaurant & Café, located close to the lobby of the park, serves good local fare at reasonable prices. Perhaps the best way to end a day at the park is to pay a visit to this dining establishment.
Birds play an important part in the natural ecosystem, and the KL Bird Park aims to educate visitors on just how important that role is.
Visitors not only get a chance to enjoy nature in the heart of the city, they learn just how important the balance of nature is.
KL Bird Park
920, Jalan Cenderawasih
Perdana Botanical Gardens
50480 Kuala Lumpur
WP Kuala Lumpur
Operation hours: 9am-6pm daily
Malaysians: RM25 per adult ; RM12 for children and senior citizens Foreigners: RM63 for adults ; RM42 for children
Contact: 03 – 2272 1010