Starting May 29, 2021, Aviary guests can enjoy a tropical retreat with the wonders of the African continent right from the Northside of Pittsburgh.

By Destiny Dixon

Photo: National Aviary trainer David Kaser with a grey-crowned crane, by Mike Faix

National Aviary guests have the opportunity to experience and discover the wide array of bird species which inhabit the lush jungles of Africa this summer with a new “Journey to Africa” exhibit. 

Guests can meet the best of Africa’s rich biodiversity and vast ecosystem this summer at the Aviary, from red-billed hornbills and rey-crowned cranes to African penguins, martial eagles, and hooded vultures. The facility has enhanced safety precautions set in place in order to abide by guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Allegheny County Health Department. These protocols include a timed ticketing system that limits capacity, physical distancing markers, a face mask requirement, and multiple hand sanitation stations located throughout the building.

The new program includes daily activities such as an “African Adventure,” the Aviary’s new immersive bird show, and real-life “Animal Encounters,” where guests can get even more up close and personal with the various species through a “meet-and-greet” of sorts.

“The African continent is incredibly biodiverse, and Journey to Africa, presented by Peoples, highlights the amazing range of species found across the continent…,” said Molly Toth, communications and content specialist for the National Aviary. 

“New daily programming introduces visitors to these fascinating birds and showcases the unique adaptations that make them well-suited for life in Africa’s many habitats. It also allows us to call attention to the conservation challenges facing species across the continent, and help our visitors understand what actionable steps they can take to help from home.” 

Photo: A red-billed hornbill perched on a branch in its habitat, by Mike Faix

Other immersive activities included with the price of general admission are African penguin feedings and  “Vultures in Flight” talks and demonstrations about the important role hooded  vultures play in keeping ecosystems healthy across Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Outdoor outings will also be available this upcoming summer. Sunrise and sunset schedules are now open for registration. Birding expeditions with Aviary Ornithologist Bob Mulvihill at Cook Forest and birdwatching kayak tours with L.L. Bean at North Park Lake are a couple of options. The Aviary is also providing a virtual summer camp presented via Zoom where participants can go on a one-of-a-kind adventure at home as well as take a look into the National Aviary’s teaching hospital with “Aviary Behind the Scenes.”

The new season of National Aviary activities launches May 29, 2021. The Aviary is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests can order timed tickets in advance for admission and encounters at aviary.org.

Northside Chronicle Town Hall Subscription