The National Aviary is known for its diverse array of birds from climates all around the world, from penguins to condors. Now, it's being recognized in particular for its Tropical Rainforest exhibit. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) announced on Mon., Sept 30 that the National Aviary was awarded the 2019 Exhibit Design Award for its renovation of the exhibit in 2018.
The Aviary's $1.2 million renovation of the Tropical Rainforest exhibit, which first opened in 1952, included the addition of a dome with over 19,000 square feet of bird-friendly glass to maximize light, a 15-foot waterfall, new plants and trees, and energy-efficient enhancement. AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe said in a press release that the exhibit "goes above and beyond AZA’s rigorous standards for animal management, safety, conservation, and education.” He also described it as "a novel, immersive habitat that ensures high-quality animal care as well as meaningful guest experiences."
The Tropical Rainforest is home to over 80 birds and 400 plants, as well as other inhabitants of the tropical environment, like two-toed sloths. “The renovation of the National Aviary’s oldest room has resulted in a beautiful habitat, with carefully chosen trees, plants, and water features that represent the environment tropical bird and mammal species would inhabit in the wild, and provide a window into the natural behaviors this new habitat encourages, like nesting," said Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy in a press release. "Our docents and interactive signage promote greater understanding of rainforest habitats, our dependence on them, and the actions we can all take to help protect them.”
The AZA is the accrediting organization of most zoos in the United States, and works with a goal of furthering education, science, conservation, and animal welfare.