Park that loves God’s feathered friends
A life-long passion and love for birds and animals has become a thriving business venture for Kevin Mallia.
For the energetic 43-year-old father of Mosta has decided to put all his life’s savings into a one-of a-kind bird park in Burmarrad.
What began as a simple hobby as a child has developed into a zealous adventure and long hours of work.
And now he has managed to transform a couple of fields in the Burmarrad valley into a breathing oasis, home to some 300 bird species ranging from the humblest of budgies to four kinds of flamingoes, owls, ibis and cranes, among others.
Some are in well-kept cages and a large aviary, while others are free to fly in and out of a purposely-built lagoon, attracting other birds in the process.
“We have come a long way since we started and it’s nice to see that our birds have managed to attract others during their migration,”said Mr Mallia.
“We now have little egrets, among others, nesting outside the aviary.”
He knows this venture comes at a cost and he has already put all his life’s savings into his project.
“The main expense is the food for the animals which is all imported, except for some chicken,” he said.
“Most of the birds are meat and fish eating. They are also given worms as a treat. Some worms cost €60 a kilo, and we make use of three kilos a day.”
There are also other running costs.
“However, it is worth every second of it especially when we have kids around,”he added
“For some it is the first time they ever get up-close and personal with the birds and the other animals on the park. And they always come up with some interesting question or other.”
Mr Mallia would like to see more tourists visit the park during the summer.
“It’s important to show foreigners that Malta is not only about hunting. We do love birds and we can prove it,” he said.
Mr Mallia and his park manager, Rita Gauci, are always concerned once the hunting season begins.
“We have called on the authorities to impose a 300-metre hunting-free zone around the park, but it’s not easy.
“Hunters are a force majeure here but we will not give up,” he said as he gets into one of the cages occupied by Ninu, the donkey and Lizzie, the crane.
His and Ms Gauci’s love towards the animals is evident and reciprocated.
As soon as they approach the cage, Ninu, who had been lapping up the sun burst into a gallop, followed by Lizzie, who seemed to be conversing with Ms Gauci.
Mr Mallia and Ninu got into a friendly tussle to the merriment of the onlooking patrons in the adjacent cafeteria.
Other animals on the park – open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and public holidays – include meercats, kangaroos, antelopes and snakes.