In 2005, Tracy Aviary initiated a massive renovation effort that will completely transform its physical landscape and exhibits. This unprecedented transformation is guided by a master plan that directs future exhibits to represent different bird habitats found north and south along the Western Hemispheric Flyway – the migratory route used by bird species that frequent the Great Salt Lake and other Utah landscapes.
Renovation projects to have been completed as by Summer 2013 include:
- Destination Argentina (2005) includes a flamingo pond featuring a flock of our pink friends along with other bird, such as white-faced whistling ducks and Chileon wigeons The exhibit also includes a black-necked swan pond, plus an intimate walk-through aviary with more than twenty birds, including monk parakeets, saffron finches, guira cuckoo, red-headed cardinals, elegant-crested tinamous, and southern lapwing.
- Renovation of the historic Chase Mill (2006), Utah’s oldest standing industrial building, offers unmatched character and a perfect place for bird-day parties and summer camps. Other uses include indoor bird programs, weddings or anniversary parties.
- New Exhibits for both Bald and Golden Eagles (2007), each with a water feature and landscape plants common to typical habitats. The bald eagle habitat replicates a higher elevation forest while the golden eagle habitat represents the open desert.
- Renovated Sandhill Crane Exhibit (2008), with the addition of a pond and wetland plant species as well as many grasses typically found in Utah meadows.
- Kennecott Wetland Immersion Experience (2009) replaced the antiquated “flight cage” that dated back to the days when the zoo was located on the Tracy Aviary site. Visitors are now enticed to walk on a boardwalk through this exhibit and get nose to beak with birds commonly found in Utah. Birds in this exhibit include white-faced ibis, black-crowned night heron, American avocet, black-necked stilt, long-billed curlew, American coot, and more.
- Amazon Adventure (2009), filled with sun conures, is an exhibit providing a unique opportunity to get up close and actually feed the birds. Operating year round, our website provides information about cost and feeding times.
- Seriema Exhibit (2010), added to the Destination Argentina exhibit, converted an under-utilized meadow into an opportunity to show-off one of Argentina’s most unusual looking birds.
- Southern Ground Hornbill Exhibit (2010) was built to house our collection of one of our most charismatic bird species. The exhibit includes furniture – timbers and boulders – that the birds love to investigate, and because it’s netted the birds are now able to fly from perch to perch.
- South American Pavilion (2010) a renovation that produced a stunning building and the first indoor exhibits where visitors can see birds in a comfortable indoor setting. Seven aviaries feature a wide collection of tropical birds.
- Owl Forest (2011) transforms an under-utilized space into a real forest with more than 100 trees. Featured will be numerous owl species ranging from the very small to the very large, and from those commonly seen in Utah-if you know where to look-to the rarely seen in Utah-even if you do know where to look.
- Rare Bird Exhibit (2012) featuring the always-playful keas to the magnificent reeve’s pheasant, this exhibit features 12 species from throughout the world that are rare and endangered.
In recent years, a great deal of effort has gone toward improving every aspect of Tracy Aviary, including the collection, the staff, and the grounds. In 2001/2002 Tracy Aviary’s staff and board developed a strategic plan that allows Tracy Aviary to renew its position as one of Salt Lake City’s most prized assets.
Friends of Tracy Aviary
In 1993, a support organization, the Friends of Tracy Aviary, reorganized Tracy Aviary as a private, nonprofit corporation and prepared for the responsibilities of its management. In 1994, Tracy Aviary became a fully independent institution. Annual operating support is received from Salt Lake City Corporation; the Zoo, Arts, and Parks Fund of Salt Lake County; and through the generosity of many individuals, corporations and foundations.
For the 12 years prior to Aviary management by Friends of Tracy Aviary, the Aviary was managed by Salt Lake City Corporation. A highlight of this administration was the tenure of curator, D. Grenville Roles, who focused on building Tracy Aviary to become a premier institution. Salt Lake City increased its operational and financial interest and provided more than $500,000 to improve the buildings and other structures.
Tracy Aviary committed itself to providing more educational programs and opportunities for the benefit of the citizens of Salt Lake City and surrounding areas. As a result, educational outreach programs for children in public schools became a central focus for Tracy Aviary education staff. In 1990, Tracy Aviary was accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA). With accreditation, the public is assured that Tracy Aviary meets required high standards in the areas of animal care, visitor experience, and educational purpose.
Our Beginnings (1938-1982)
For Tracy Aviary’s first 37 years, Calvin D. Wilson was the curator and visionary. During his tenure several world-first breeding occurred here, along with recognition for the part Tracy Aviary played in recovery efforts of the Trumpeter Swan. Wilson retired in 1975 and for the next several years (1976-1982) Tracy Aviary was troubled by poor management, meager funding, and widespread deterioration of both the buildings and the bird collection.