Photo by Alyse Horn
An African penguin greeted Night in the Tropics attendees as they arrived at the event on Saturday, July 12.

By Alyse Horn

“This event is for the birds.”

That was the consensus Saturday night at the National Aviary for its annual Night in the Tropics fundraiser, which raised $190,000 for America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated to birds.

Robin Weber, director of marketing and communications at the Aviary, said she was thrilled with the event overall.

“The theme really ignited people’s interests and it was very successful in fundraising and attendance,” Weber said.

There were nearly 1,000 people in attendance and this year the Aviary surpassed their fundraising goal by $15,000, Weber said.

Guests were asked to dress in tropical and fiery colors, as this year’s theme was fire and there were performances by the Steel Town Fire.

Weber said that this year “more than ever, people were able to connect with the Aviary’s mission and the birds” in general.

“Mission moments scattered through the aviary and the bird show in the [Rose] Garden were [interactions that] people really enjoyed,” Weber said. “[People got] the opportunity to see all of the different things the aviary does besides the things you get to see every day on your average visit.”

The mission moments involved certain birds and a handler that stood throughout the Aviary to educate guests on that specific bird, so attendees could interact with the birds their money was going to help.

A screech owl named Barkley was one of the birds included in the mission moments. He was acquired by the Aviary from a rehab center and is missing one eye, which is thought to have been lost during a fight with another animal.

Todd and Cynthia Shaffer were attendees of this year’s Night in the Tropics, and loved the birds placement in the Aviary.

“[You] turn a corner and there is something to interact with,” Cynthia said. “[The Aviary did] a really good job with the bird shows and fire performances, it was a really relaxed atmosphere.”

Both said that the “food was excellent, but the band was better.”

Jimbo and the Soupbones performed from 7 p.m. until the party ended at 11 p.m.

Weber said this year she received a lot of positive comments about the food and the tasting experience.

“The layout was great and everyone had the opportunity to get a true sense of the restaurants there,” Weber said.