Meet Jurong Bird Park's first animal icon Sunny

ST VIDEO: NADIA CHEVROULET

Sunny the hornbill has been named Jurong Bird Park's first animal icon.

The five-year-old great hornbill will help to raise awareness of the hornbill ivory trade and other issues that threaten the survival of the species.

Sunny is one of the stars of the High Flyers Show, which showcases the talents, beauty and intelligence of some of the birds at the park, which is run by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, deputy chief executive officer and chief life sciences officer of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said the hornbill was selected "as we think this striking bird will be a relatable ambassador for all threatened bird species that need our help and protection".

Jurong Bird Park trainer Eileen Lim with Sunny yesterday. About one-third of the world's 54 hornbill species are threatened.
Jurong Bird Park trainer Eileen Lim with Sunny yesterday. About one-third of the world's 54 hornbill species are threatened. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

About one-third of the world's 54 hornbill species are threatened, with most of the threatened species native to Asia. Deforestation, a slow rate of reproduction and a reliance on large, natural hollows for nesting sites have contributed to the decline in hornbill numbers.

Jurong Bird Park, which houses 18 species of hornbill, is involved in conservation efforts both here and in the region. These activities were a factor in the decision to make Sunny the park's icon.

"The fact that he is also a South- east Asian hornbill is key for us, because we are focusing on South- east Asian hornbill conservation," said Dr Jessica Lee, manager, conservation, research and professional training at WRS.

"We picked a bird that could encompass all the hornbill groups that we are looking at."

Visitors to the bird park can learn more about the threats to hornbills through Sunny's daily appearances in the High Flyers Show, as well as the Hornbill Chit-chat sessions at which they can view hornbills during their feeding sessions.

The park is also planning a series of hornbill-related activities. From Nov 19 to Dec 11, visitors can take photos with Sunny and other birds, participate in craft activities, pen messages to loved ones at the Hornbill Love Mail and more.

Correction note: The story has been edited to correct the quote by Dr Cheng Wen-Haur.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'Meet Jurong Bird Park's first animal icon Sunny'. Print Edition | Subscribe