North Side: National Aviary in Pittsburgh
Congress, President Create National Aviary in Pittsburgh!
From Bird Calls, The Newsletter of the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Fall, 1993.
Aviary Executive Director Dayton Baker announced that the United States Congress and President Bill Clinton have designated the Pittsburgh Aviary as the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Congressional approval for the act came when the Senate approved the designation on October 27, 1993. President Clinton signed the measure into law November 8, 1993.
The designation followed the U. S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works' unanimous recommendation July 30 that the Pittsburgh Aviary become the National Aviary. The House of Representatives had previously passed the measure on July 13. The National Aviary in Pittsburgh gains the status of being the only national aviary in America.
The national designation bears no federal funding, but offers the Aviary the opportunity to receive sponsorship and grant money from sources throughout the nation. The title will help position the Aviary as a national leader in wildlife conservation efforts. "We will be able to do national promotions which will give our fund-raising efforts a tremendous boost," Baker said.
The new designation will also aid Pittsburgh tourism. "A great local landmark will now be much more visible to bird lovers from all over the country," Baker explained. "Visitors from every state in the union can now share a wonderful secret that Pittsburghers have known about for years," added Aviary spokesman, Frank Moone.
In February, the bill proposing national designation was jointly introduced into the 103rd Congress by Congressman William Coyne and Senator Harris Wofford, Jr. "Designation of the National Aviary in Pittsburgh would ensure that the American people have a continued opportunity to enjoy one of America's great natural treasures," Coyne said.
The National Aviary in Pittsburgh is the largest indoor Aviary in the country independent of a larger zoo. It houses one of the nation's finest bird collections and currently features 450 birds of over 250 species, including 15 endangered and 25 threatened species, such as the Andean Condor and Micronesian Kingfisher.
"The national designation will assist in establishing the Aviary as a leader in avian conservation and research," Baker said. The Aviary participates in the Species Survival Program, a global cooperative conservation program designed to share breeding stock and information with zoos throughout the world.
The City of Pittsburgh, in an effort to balance the municipal budget, considered closing the Aviary in the Fall of 1991. Save the Aviary, Inc., a group composed mostly of Aviary volunteers and North Side business people, came to the rescue, prompting a powerful surge of public, private, and corporate support that managed to keep the institution afloat. The Aviary began a membership program, Aviary Alliance, which now includes nearly 4,000 individuals.
"National designation is a testament to the efforts of the people who have strived to insure the survival of the Pittsburgh Aviary," Moone said.
Congress gave a similar designation to the National Aquarium in Baltimore more than a decade ago. According to Aviary spokesman Frank Moone, the Pittsburgh Aviary's request for national designation was modeled after efforts by officials in Baltimore who successfully lobbied to have the Inner Harbor Aquarium designated as a national facility. Washington D.C.'s National Zoo is another tourist facility which has been granted national designation by Congress and the President.