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Not just a tourist attraction to gawk at beautiful birds, KL Bird Park is also a sanctuary for breeding different species of birds, both endangered and common.
Trailing down the winding path where the Perdana Botanical Garden and the Royal Police Station are, you’ll find KL Bird Park – an oasis where avian of various species roam and fly free within a sprawling enclosure in the city. Under canopies of trees and braided branches, just pay close attention and you can find a yellow-billed stork overseeing her nest, or an ornate nest built by a baya weaver, hanging precariously from the tip of a palm leaf.
KL Bird Park is much more than a tourist attraction, but an enclave where species of birds thrive and continue their life cycle in a safe environment. Since 2002, the park has been the breeding ground for avian both common and rare, like the monogamous hornbill.
The emu was the first species to be bred in the park’s breeding programme, followed by the yellow-billed stork – a fruitful success judging by the abundant population that occupy the large free-flight zone. They can be found pacing placidly on the pavement alongside fascinated camera-wielding visitors or spreading their wings to sunbathe in the river. You won’t see them commingling with the indigenous milky stork, however. It’s strictly forbidden to protect each species’ pedigree, as Dr. Kartini Ahmad, the park’s vet, explains, “We keep [the storks] separate because we want to avoid mixed breeding, which is against the PERHILITAN act.”
Dr. Kartini is a resident vet at KL Bird Park.
Dr. Kartini has over 11 years of veterinary experience including a tenure at UPM Veterinary Hospital. She has spent five of those years diligently treating and overseeing the wellbeing of the the park’s avian inhabitants. Naturally she says, “I love animals, there’s a part of me that’s [been] attracted to the avian group ever since I was studying.” She calls her job a “dream come true”, and credits her avian knowledge to the park’s former curator, Irwan Darmawan, who started the breeding programme.
Every day, Dr. Kartini patrols the park to check on the birds and treat injured or ill-stricken ones that have been reported to her by the park keepers. When it’s time for a bird’s breeding period, she feeds them vitamin E supplements to encourage a healthy reproductive system.
Just like precious artefacts in an exhibition, these birds are not meant to be touched. As advised by Dr. Kartini, “Most of the birds here are still considered wild; you can walk alongside them, but it’s not to the extent of petting them because they may attack you.”
Even so, the birds do sometimes retain memories of their human caretaker. “The best part is when I visit the birds that I’ve raised from their juvenile stage to adulthood, and they’d curiously come towards me and manja-manja [be affectionate] with me.”
Travelling further around the park, Dr. Kartini points out the manmade nest box hung inside most of the aviaries. They are substitutes for nests – for birds that don’t have access to natural resources to build one. Dr. Kartini explains, “If we don’t provide nest boxes, there would be just a perch and a tree in their aviary, which is not a suitable condition for breeding. They can’t build their own nest box in their captivity and so they will be unable to breed.” When the birds do lay their eggs, they are left alone without much human interference to avoid disrupting the incubation process.
Though it may not be obvious, the efforts of KL Bird Park underpins the general conservation of a dwindling species of birds. When you find yourself strolling through the park as a spectator of the wondrous experience, do know that people like Dr. Kartini are hard at work making sure the flocks continue to grow.
Address: 920 Jalan Cenderawasih, Perdana Botanical Garden, 50480 Kuala Lumpur (03 2272 1010). Open daily, 9am-6pm. Admission: adults from RM27, children from RM13. More info at www.klbirdpark.com
By Cindy Low Shing Yi
Photos by Teoh Eng Hooi
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