Aviary History

As the largest and oldest of only two free-standing aviaries in the nation, Tracy Aviary has grown and evolved over our more than 80-year history to become a cultural landmark, public garden, and leader in environmental education and conservation.


Tracy Aviary at Liberty Park opened to the public on July 2, 1938. The then four-acre facility was not only home to several hundred birds but other animals, including seals, monkeys, and kangaroos. Before opening the public, the birds at Tracy Aviary had been part of the personal collection of a banker by the name of Russell Lord Tracy. He collected and displayed the birds in the yard of his home in Salt Lake City. As his collection became more popular, he realized he needed a more public location for his birds to be viewed. He worked with the city to designate a portion of Liberty Park, which had previously been home to the Zoo, to serve as an aviary. Tracy donated his collection to the city for the enjoyment, entertainment and education of Salt Lake City’s children and stayed involved in the aviary until he died in 1945.

Over the past 80 years, Tracy Aviary has continued to grow and evolve, expanding to the 8-acre natural oasis it is today. In 2009, Tracy Aviary underwent a major remodel to create an entirely new experience for guests. New exhibits were added, including spaces for our king vultures, macaws, hawks, and North American Owls. A new Bird Show theater was built to allow for more engaging programs. And many of our facilities received much-need updates to improve our guest experience and enable Tracy Aviary’s staff to provide high-quality care to the birds.

In 2016, Tracy Aviary opened our latest themed exhibit, Treasures of the Rainforest, which is home to dozens of birds and plant species from along the equator.

As an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility, we continually strive to meet the highest standards to make the experience for our guests and the birds who call Tracy Aviary home the absolute best possible. We continue to enhance our grounds and expand our programming to further our mission to inspire curiosity and caring for birds and nature through education and conservation.

As part of that mission, in 2020, we opened a new campus, Tracy Aviary’s Jordan River Nature Center in South Salt Lake. In 2024 the name was changed to the Nature Center at Pia Okwai. Click here to learn more about the vision and future of the Nature Center.

Check out some historic photos and articles from Tracy Aivary

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