Looking back with Lovebirds of the Bird Park
News of Jurong Bird Park's relocation to Mandai in 2020 has stirred up memories for two couples whose love stories started at the Park
Most would pick a restaurant or a cinema for their first date, but not Mr Abdul Wahid Abdul Kareem.
His first date with Madam Latifah Abdul Hamid in 1985 was at the Jurong Bird Park.
And they plan to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary there in November.
The Bird Park was in the news recently when plans were announced to move it closer to the Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and the new Rainforest Park in 2020.
When asked why he chose the Bird Park, Mr Abdul Wahid, 57, said the seclusion of the park would give them privacy and time to get to know each other better.
"I don't remember much about the birds because it felt like we were the only ones at the park that day," Madam Latifah, 56, confessed while blushing.
The two had met through Mr Abdul Wahid's cousin.
The date showed Madam Latifah a side of Mr Abdul Wahid she would not have seen if they had simply gone to a movie - his passion for eagles.
"I was first drawn to his extensive knowledge of eagles," said Madam Latifah, a clerk.
Mr Abdul Wahid told The New Paper he is inspired by the birds of prey.
"Eagles are nurturing creatures who guard their nest very protectively," said Mr Abdul Wahid who is self-employed and runs a small medium enterprise.
After hitting it off, the couple had their second date on National Day and tied the knot a year later in November.
The couple's 27-year-old daughter, Ms Khadijah Abdul Wahid, is all too familiar with her parents' love story.
"Although my mother can be quite hard to impress, the first date was successful," the only child told TNP over the phone.
"You can say that my father swept her off her feet."
The couple would take Ms Khadijah to the park when she was younger and tell her about their first date.
Last Sunday, Mr Abdul Wahid and Madam Latifah revisited the Bird Park.
They immediately noticed changes.
"There used to be colourful birds such as parrots and peacocks at the entrance.
"Where did they go?" Madam Latifah asked.
Despite the major changes the Bird Park is going through, Mr Abdul Wahid and Madam Latifah remain optimistic and excited.
"Its relocation is not going to stop us from visiting the Bird Park," they said.
They met, wed at Bird Park
UNIQUE: (From left) Madam Noor Hanisza and Mr Azhar showing their wedding photo of them at Lakeview Ballroom. TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA
Visitors are not the only ones under its romantic spell. Mr Azhar Nazir, 35,a show manager at Jurong Bird Park, met his soulmate, Madam Noor Hanisza, 31,there.
Mr Azhar joined the bird show department in 2002.
He met his wife in 2004 when she joined as a part-time employee at the Park's Panorail while she was a student at National University of Singapore.
Even though their initial encounters were brief, their relationship blossomed in 2006when Mr Azhar injured his leg during his daily commute to work on his bicycle.
Unable to cycle home, Mr Azhar started talking to Madam Noor Hanisza at the bus stop outside the Bird Park.
They have been together ever since.
Mr Azhar proposed in 2012 and the couple had their wedding ceremony at the heart of the Bird Park that year. About 200 people attended.
"We decided to have our wedding there as the Bird Park has been such an important feature of our lives," said Madam Noor Hanisza.
Their wedding photos were taken against the park's picturesque backdrops, such as the Waterfall Aviary, and the flamingos outside the Lakeview Ballroom.
Because of her husband's irregular working hours that include shifts over the weekend, Madam Noor Hanisza, who left the Bird Park in 2006 and now works at the Science Centre in Jurong, drops by once a monthto have lunch him at the Park.
"She is very understanding about my job. Not many are able to put up with my work schedule," Mr Azhar said.
Madam Noor Hanisza will occasionally take her nieces and nephews to the Bird Park.
Madam Noor Hanisza said: "I don't have kids now, but I'm planning to have kids soon."
She looks forward to taking her children to the Bird Park in the future.
About the new Bird Park
PHOTO: MANDAI SAFARI PARK HOLDINGS
The new Bird Park, to be part of the Mandai nature precinct that also includes the Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and the new Rainforest Park, is expected to be ready in 2020 .
It will be in the western section of the precinct and will have nine large aviaries with different landscapes, such as bamboo forests, wetlands and rainforests.
Features from the original Bird Park will be reimagined in the new park, including a new waterfall, a grand entrance framed with flowering plants and a custom-designed amphitheatre for performances.
Emphasis will be placed on South-east Asian species such as the Bali mynah, black-winged starling and the blue-crowned laughing thrush.
Moving the birds from the original park will take about three months.