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The Straits Times
June 10, 2023
A family’s first trip to Bird Paradise turned sour on Friday morning after a cockatoo from the park bit the ear of a 13-year-old girl, the latest in a string of fowl play at the new attraction.
Housewife Serene Chen told The Straits Times on Saturday that her daughter was photographing the sulphur-crested cockatoo in the Australian Outback aviary, just 15 minutes after the park had opened.
As the girl turned away, the bird flew onto her shoulder and started biting her ear, said Madam Chen, who was walking some distance behind with her husband and 11-year-old son.
The 42-year-old said: “Immediately, we ran to save her and I told her not to move. The bird was biting very fast and I used my middle finger to stop it from biting her. And then my husband pushed the bird away.”
By then, the girl’s ear was bleeding profusely and the family approached a cleaner for help as there were no rangers in sight, Madam Chen said.
Photos of the Secondary 1 student’s injuries show several puncture wounds on her ear.
GO AHEAD TO SHARE TO CREATE AWARENESS. On 9 June at Mandai Bird Paradise, White cockatoo attacked my gal suddenly. She...
Madam Chen said it took between 15 minutes and 20 minutes for more staff to arrive after her husband and the cleaner alerted the park to the incident.
The staff helped render first aid and cleaned the wound on the girl, who remained calm, she added.
The family left for Khoo Teck Puat Hospital at about 10am to seek medical treatment.
Calling for more signage to warn visitors and more staff to be present in the walk-through aviaries, Madam Chen said: “It’s the June holidays so many parents will take their children to Bird Paradise.
“I hope to create better awareness so parents will watch out for their kids.”
Responding to queries, a Mandai Wildlife Group spokesman said the cockatoo has been moved to a back-of-house aviary and the animal care team is conditioning the parrots to refrain from perching on people.
The group continues to be in contact with the family, she added.
“Being immersed among the birds in the walk-through aviaries, guests are reminded to heed the signs on park etiquette such as not attempting to touch, feed or reach out for the birds whose beaks and claws are sharp and can cause unintended injury.”
Large walk-through aviaries at Bird Paradise simulate natural habitats where the birds can fly freely to explore the environment.
The spokesman said the open-concept design is intended for the birds to take off and retreat at will, which enhances their welfare.
“Animals are like people who, from time to time, appreciate having their personal safe space, and this should be respected. So we should keep a safe distance when we are around them,” she said.
Birds are also attracted by shiny and reflective objects such as jewellery, keys and coins, she said, calling for visitors to refrain from leaving such items exposed or unattended where the birds may access them.
Her comments come after several mischievous deeds by Bird Paradise’s cockatoos.
On May 27, a visitor said on TikTok that a cockatoo had tried to grab her necklace and pearl earring after landing on her shoulder.
Visitors have also spotted some cockatoos trying to pick apart park signage with their beaks and biting into wires.
The Mandai Wildlife Group spokesman said the park has roving service ambassadors who respond to situations when called upon.
“A number is displayed in the hubs between aviaries for guests to call when assistance is needed,” she added.