Hidden Pittsburgh: Behind The Scenes Of Local Landmarks

Apr 25, 2016

On this special edition of Essential Pittsburgh we'll take listeners on a unique tour of the city. Even if you’ve been to Kennywood, The Frick Pittsburgh or the National Aviary you’ll discover what goes on behind the scenes at a number of  local landmarks.

National Aviary Birds Help Teach Kids About Conservation

Essential Pittsburgh went behind the scenes at the National Aviary’s free-flight bird show, “Nature’s Voice.” This dynamic show features birds swooping down over audience members’ heads while giving historical and cultural context to the birds’ origins. 

Jenny Walsh, assistant manager of behavioral management and education, explains the process of preparing for “Nature’s Voice.”  Trainers place show birds in kennel crates and then release boxes near the stage area using positive reinforcement to reward birds with food following a desired behavior.  “Oohs” and “Ahhs” fill the theatre as birds swoop overhead.

“It’s really rewarding to get that reaction,” Walsh says. “You’re really making a connection with those people and teaching them about how we can help these birds in their natural world.”

Kennywood’s Fix-Up Off-Season List

When Kennywood Park closes its doors following “Holiday Lights” in December, it is time to begin work for the park’s opening in May.  Maintenance crews work tirelessly in the off-season painting and fixing rides, replacing tracks on wooden coasters and tweaking breaks and cars to ensure riders’ safety. 

Nick Paradise, director of public relations and social media, took Essential Pittsburgh behind the scenes of the massive overhaul to the classic “Noah’s Ark” ride.  The only remaining ride of its kind, Kennywood is restoring the ride to its original 1930s style, complete with the classic whale entrance.  By bringing back this old school feel to the funhouse, Paradise says the park is sticking to its goal of being a family-friendly park for all ages.

“We want to maintain that traditional amusement park feel and continue to provide a mix of old and new.”

Zoo's Education Center Brings Wildlife Into The Classroom

Among the hundreds of animals featured at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, over 50 of them are used in classrooms to help educate kids on the many species around the world and how to preserve their environment.

These teaching animals range from the common to the exotic. Ernie, a mallard duck, was rescued after being abandoned by his mother. He now helps to teach children about his species and the diet of wild ducks. Chickens, kinkajous and a porcupine named Rihanna all bring a unique education element to the Zoo’s classroom visits.

Working with these animals and training them to be around humans is a welcome challenge for their handlers. Whether they are rescued or injured and going through rehabilitation, senior education specialist Beth Inches says she learns something new from each animal she encounters. 

Below The Surface At The Frick Art Museum

The recent renovation of The Frick Pittsburgh has resulted in an on-site storage facility the public doesn't see. Director of Curatorial Affairs Sarah Hall takes us underground for a tour of some of the museums many treasures. 

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