The idea of a permanent bird exhibit was first conceived by late Dr Goh Keng Swee, the then Minister for Finance, in 1968. During a World Bank Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Dr Goh visited its zoological garden and was impressed with its free-flight aviary. He sought to see that Jurong would be more than an industrial zone that Singaporeans would have a place where they could escape from urban life, where people could relax with nature. On 3 January 1971, Jurong Bird Park, built at a cost of S$3.5 million, was opened to the public.
Jurong Bird Park is now a world-famous bird zoo wherein there are specimens of magnificent bird life from around the world, including a flock of one thousand and one flamingos. It is currently the world's largest bird park in terms of number of birds and second largest in terms of land area after Germany's Vogelpark Walsrode. There are 4,600 birds of 380 species in Jurong Bird Park. Of those, 29 are of endangered species.
In 2006, Jurong Bird Park completed its S$10-million makeover. With the upgrading, the park now boasts a new entrance plaza, an African wetlands exhibit, a park-owned and managed Bongo Burgers restaurant, a Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlour, a gift shop and a bird hospital.