Monday, August 10, 2009

Aviary Adventure!

Yesterday I took my sister to the National Aviary on Pittsburgh's North Side in honor of her upcoming 15th birthday. I just found out from my mom that my sis Briona loves penguins (which I do as well!). I had heard of their new exhibit with 11 African penguins (they used to only have 5 with no real exhibit to showcase them on a daily basis aside from programs) and was planning on going with the hubby to play with a penguin. For only $40 a person, you can attend a "Penguin Connection". Basically, you get a 30-40 minute tour of some behind-the-scenes areas and the exhibit, during which you are educated on penguins in general and the ones at the Aviary. For the final 20-30 minutes, you get to meet one of their penguins; pet him/her, give it toys, watch it eat a snack, and basically interact with it. I was jumping at the chance to do this so I imagined that my sister would like it too.

In hindsight, I think she liked the trip but note to self: She is not as daring or as bold as some of us other siblings. For a while there I worried that she wouldn't even pet him, at which point I would've been displeased to have shelled out the $40. But she did and I think she liked it. Unfortunately for us, it was a VERY warm day (over 90 degrees) and although Elvis (our penguin) was inside an air-conditioned classroom with us for our meet-and-greet, the general malaise for the day could not be put off. He didn't mind us petting him, but only for a short time. He didn't want a snack or to play with toys. In fact, the only thing he really wanted to do was climb into the trainer's lap and show her such affection that you'd think he was humping her! It was rather entertaining and adorable though. Also, they sound like donkeys! They bray just like asses, haha...

The rest of the Aviary was quite extraordinary. I haven't really been a big fan of birds in the past, but perhaps that is only because I've been around canaries which are as dumb as doornails (or so I'm told). The feeding times were impressive just because of the routines the birds have down pat and they put on quite a show for the crowds. I will definitely have to bring the hubby back. The penguin exhibit also did not disappoint. They are very curious animals and they will stare at you through the glass and even splash you a little. The trainer told us that sometimes they put penguin-friendly pool toys into the penguin pool and I can only imagine how entertaining that must be to watch them have at it! Just as fun as watching the polars bears play with giant beach balls at the PPG Zoo and Aquarium. Glad I live in city with lots of opportunities to interact with such creatures.

Now if only I could volunteer to be a penguin trainer, I'll be set....

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