Unless you suffer from an Alfred Hitchcock-induced case of ornithophobia or lived though a traumatic childhood encounter with a gaggle of Canadian geese, there’s nothing quite like spending a few hours at an aviary.
A term used to describe sprawling avian habitats that allow for free flight, aviaries are a staple of zoos and also exist as standalone tourist attractions-cum-conservation hubs.
Generally, they serve two purposes: first and foremost, aviaries delight visitors by permitting them to come in close (sometimes very close) contact with rare, exotic, unusual-looking and vibrantly hued bird species that, in their native habitats, are threatened or critically endangered. Secondly, a majority of modern aviaries, many hosting population-boosting breeding programs, promote bird conservation efforts while educating the public about the plight our avian friends face in the wild. Some aviaries take a more specific approach to curation by focusing strictly on indigenous species; others function as open-to-the-public sanctuaries.
Other aviaries are better known as architectural landmarks than as institutions dedicated to displaying and studying birds in a naturalistic environment. Whatever the case, these well-visited facilities are not strictly for the birds.
Here’s a dozen top-flight public aviaries from around the world including aviaries located both inside and outside of zoos as well as large bird parks that are home to multiple aviaries. Bird fanciers: which ones have you chance the visit — and which ones are on your bird-spotting bucket list?