Critically Endangered Species – The Last Pelican of Singapore

December 18, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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In recent months, Itchyfingers have been hearing news that the old HDB estate at Dover Road is going to be demolished; following an en bloc sale to make way for new developement. With the demolition of Dover estate, the last surviving Pelican playground in Singapore will be gone also!

Itchyfingers previously assumed that all traditional mosaic playgrounds in Singapore had long given way to waves of progress and re-development of our nation; but when we accidentally chanced upon the Dover Road Pelican playground more than three years ago, we were really surprised and excited to see it! Itchyfingers visited it back then with our cameras to document it. We had such a great time reliving the memories of our childhood, and that also prompted Itchyfingers to start the series of “It’s Play Time!” to showcase other old and surviving playgrounds scattered throughout Singapore.


This was taken earlier this year (3 years have passed since our initial visit)
…with the surrounding apartment blocked vacated. Obviously not much
care and maintenance have been given to the estate, not to mention the
unused playground…The pelican has ‘aged’ so much…. 😦

I remembered having a pelican playground with sandpit just beneath my old apartment at the Queenstown area. I used to play with it a lot; there was also a slide, a see saw and swings too. Like our last visit, Itchyfingers couldn’t help but start to behave like little kids, climbing and posing around the Pelican…


Oooo…holding the moon in the hand?
 😀 Or is it Dragonball?! 😀 


Ha! I can also reach out to the moon! 😀 Hahah….The last visit I couldn’t
climb up the pelican’s mouth cos of my clumsiness. This time round, perhaps
knowing that it could be my last chance to do so, I struggled a little and
finally got up… 


Itchyfingers with the Pelican. Will this be a memory of the past?


The turtle and rabbit…I got a few insect bites here…not sure if they were
mossies or sandflies as mentioned in other blogs…

Couldn’t help but feel sad…The Pelican and other old playgrounds were part of our growing up lives…They gave us their friendship and witnessed our youthful laughter and our tears. They tolerated our abuses when we threw our little tantrums, kicking and leaving little marks on them. Now the generation that grew up playing with these mosaic playgrounds are all busy with their own adult lives; their children no longer have a chance to play with these locally designed playgrounds…Most of the mosaic playgrounds have to make way for their newer, plastic and metal, counterparts…. due to some unfounded safety reasons. Many people have forgotten about their old friends.

Last week, when I looked at the photos of our last visit to the Pelican, I was shocked to realise it was almost four months ago in August! I have planned to share the plight of the Pelican on our blog after our last visit, but somehow work and other commitments made it slip my mind! I have let the Pelican down! Not wanting to waste more time, Itchyfingers braved the heavy downpour yesterday and went to check out on our friend again. I was so relieved to see that it is still there… albeit in a sorrier state….


The rain couldn’t wash away the green algae growth on the pelican’s body…
It was sitting lonely in the rain…as if crying…”Why have all the children
abandoned me?”

I remembered during the General Election in May this year, one of the MPs mentioned about residents asking her if she can help to keep the ‘ducks’ in their area as they were memories of their childhood.


Remember these?


After visiting the Pelican, Itchyfingers went searching for the other old
playgrounds. I was thrilled to hear on tv that the MP had promised to keep
the ducks. It was only then that I realised these also survived the passing
of time…I used to sit on the duck when I was even younger…


Together with the highly stylised elephants and horses, the ducks are the
only surviving animal stools left now. It is good to know that these will be
kept and not give way to newer playgrounds


MP Josephine Teo has made a promise on national tv during the GE that
the ducks would be kept, kudos to her!

So, if the ducks can be kept for the future generation, why can’t the Pelican be preserved too? Surely it is worth keeping given its unique and iconic design, its significance to the lives of many children who had spent their childhood with it? In fact, it is even more aesthetically appealing compared to the ducks, elephants and horses and does not take up  as much space. Will it be possible to move it to somewhere else and made into a modern piece of public art instead?


The Pelican is part of the living heritage of Singapore, part of the collective
memories of many children growing up in the 70s and 80s, and maybe even
up to the early 90s. It is definitely a great loss to see it go. Will the voices
of concerned citizen be able to save the last Pelican of Singapore?

If you feel as strongly as Itchyfingers that the Pelican playground ought to be preserved for posterity, please leave your comments here. Better still, go to the “Save the Last Pelican Playground in Singapore!” Facebook page and post photos of you posing with the Pelican or other older playgrounds. We would be glad to consolidate your feedback and comments and have them forwarded to the MP, HDB and NHB. Hurry up! Time is running out!

Also see related posts:
> It’s Play Time! #3
> It’s Play Time! #2
> It’s Play Time! #1 

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