From World’s Fair to World’s Fowl: The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo Celebrates the History of its Aviary
The Queens Zoo’s geodesic dome aviary was originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair.
Flushing, N.Y. - April 21, 2014 – A piece of the 1964 World’s Fair lives on at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo. The geodesic dome that houses the zoo’s aviary was an original structure on display during the historic exposition held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park 50 years ago this month.
The dome first served as the Winston Churchill Pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair. At the close of the fair, the dome was dismantled and placed in storage for a few years. It wasn’t until 1968, when Robert Moses commissioned for a zoo to be built on the old fair grounds, that the dome would be rebuilt and repurposed, becoming the aviary it is today.
“Over the years, I can’t tell you how many people have related their memories of the ’64 World’s fair to me when they see the aviary,” said Scott Silver, Animal Curator and Director of the Queens Zoo. “Something about its iconic shape seems to trigger memories about the fair, and I have heard many wonderful stories about it as a result.”
The aviary is now home to many species of birds native to North and South America, including parrots, cattle egrets, pintail ducks, and more. In the warmer months, macaws, a species of parrot, join the other birds in the aviary. Some of the macaw species on exhibit in the aviary include blue and gold macaws, scarlet macaws, and hyacinth macaws – the world’s largest parrots.
The aviary has undergone several internal changes since the Queens Zoo came under the management of the Wildlife Conservation Society in 1992. Streams, elevated pools, and a waterfall have been added to better replicate a natural forest habitat. The winding walkway that ascends from the forest floor to the treetops at its apex has also been refurbished.
The geodesic dome was made famous by architect and designer Buckminster Fuller. It was hailed as one of the lightest, strongest, and most cost-effective structures ever conceived. Despite being one of the largest single-layer structures of its time, standing at 175-feet-wide, it took only about a week to erect.
Though the aviary is the only structure on the Queens Zoo’s grounds that was used during the 1964 World’s Fair, the zoo is surrounded by several landmarks from the fair, including the Unisphere, observation towers, and the New York State Pavilion.
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The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo – Open every day of the year. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 65 and older, $5 for kids 3-12, free for children under 3. Zoo hours are 10am to 5pm weekdays, and 10am – 5:30pm weekends, April through October, and 10am – 4:30pm daily, November through April. The Queens Zoo is located at 53-51 111th Street in Flushing Meadow’s Corona Park in Queens. For further information, call 718-271-1500 or visit www.wcs.org
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; facebook.com/TheWCS; youtube.com/user/WCSMedia; follow: @theWCS.
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