June 16, 2022
World of Birds: Thanks for 50 Years
- as seen by -Timothy Mohl
For the past 50 years, thousands of animals, hundreds of species, and generations of devout wild animal keepers have been part of the Wildlife Conservation Society Bronx Zoo’s World of Birds, and millions of excited patrons have walked up the hill and through its doors. This post is to honor all people who have kept the World of Birds more of a home than a house of birds.
Atop our hill with geometric splendor, the World of Birds stands, dating back to June of 1972, the vision of zoologist and ornithologist Dr. William Conway (1929-2021). He built a home for the creatures he truly loved. Once the Bronx Zoo Curator of Birds, and later, the esteemed President of WCS, Conway oversaw the construction of our cylindrical exhibits which continue to allow for smooth flight paths of the birds within. Some exhibits reach up to three stories in height and hold 40-plus-year-old trees, enormous waterfalls, and murals that are indistinguishable from the lush foliage planted around them, all to feature our beautiful collection of avian fauna. There is not a single keeper who hasn’t walked into our impressive upstairs exhibits for the first time without showing some sort of awe or excitement and saying “this is my office?” or “I get to work here?!”.
We recently finished up our annual refurbishing which is a time for repair and upkeep of our building. All hands were on deck, not to give a full facelift, but more to provide a good sprucing up for a 50-year-old building that over 300 birds currently call home. Staff from more than a half dozen Zoo departments showcased their expertise in keeping our electric and waterways running smoothly, our doors opening without a squeak, and our exhibits warm and comfortable for the feathered inhabitants. The skills of our behind-the-scenes staff will amaze even the most avid zoo enthusiast, making them wonder if that tree is real or fabricated.
I personally have been honored to call the Bronx Zoo Bird Department my “work home” for the past 20 years. I have followed the footsteps of many senior wild animal keepers before me to keep this glorious building in working order as we celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Thank you to those that have kept this roof above the head of so many animals and staff in comfortable and hospitable working conditions.