A rare bird goes on show

The rare shoebill bird has made its return to Jurong Bird Park to feature in the Wetlands exhibit.

An 11-year-old male and 17-year-old female were flown in from Qatar last month.

The pair's introduction makes the Jurong Bird Park the only zoo-logical institution in South-east Asia where the species can be seen.

The park first displayed shoebills in 1995, with its last specimen dying in 2015.

Though there are only two reported cases of successful breeding under human care, the Jurong Bird Park hopes to breed the pair and better understand the species.

The shoebill - whose scientific name is Balaeniceps rex - has a lifespan of up to 35 years in the wild, where it feeds on fish, amphibians, snakes, rodents and even baby crocodiles. Native to tropical East Africa, where they are threatened by a loss of their natural habitat and the illegal wildlife trade, shoebills are classified as vulnerable in the International Union for Conser-vation of Nature's list of threatened species. There are between 5,000 and 8,000 shoebills in the wild, and 30 currently under human care.

Other birds found in the Wetlands exhibit include the criti-cally endangered northern bald ibis and the roseate spoonbill and hammerkop.

Zhaki Abdullah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2018, with the headline 'A rare bird goes on show'. Print Edition | Subscribe