Tuesday, October 5, 2010
The National Aviary in Pittsburgh today unveiled its $18.5 million expansion that took 3 years to complete. Aviary Executive Director Patrick Mangus says they renovated 35,000 square feet of space, added 10,000 square feet, built 2 major new exhibits: "Penguin Point" and "The Grasslands," added a state of the art classroom, and a new grand entrance and lobby space. Mangus says they also built the world's first indoor FliteZone Theater to present free-flight bird shows...
"In 25 minutes, we take our visitors to South America where they experience macaws and parrots, to Africa with hooded vultures, to Europe with Eurasian eagle owls. Here in the U.S., we're looking at Harris hawks that reside in the southwest and gulls from the Gulf Coast and probably everybody's favorite...the bald eagle."
Mangus says what visitors see are not tricks..."These birds are actually exhibiting natural behaviors in an indoor environment. It's something unique. It really showcases the exciting behaviors of birds but also showcases how we are impacting their habitat and threatening their way of life. There's a strong environmental message but it's also exciting and entertaining."
The first show at the FliteZone, "Wings," opens October 9th.
Mangus says another highlight of the expansion is the construction of a rooftop sky deck for raptor shows where birds of prey fly through the park and act on their trainers' instructions. That will open Memorial Day and will only be presented during warm weather months.
The expansion was funded through philanthropies, foundations, state grants and individuals