The National Aviary
December 17
5 to 9 p.m.

Take a break from singing about turtle doves, French hens and swans-a-swimming to ring in the holidays with one of winter’s most beloved birds.

Disco the African penguin is calling all kids to the National Aviary for a festive night of fun featuring wintery feathered friends.

While parents and caregivers get their last-minute shopping done or enjoy date night, children can explore the Aviary after-hours and discover a whole new side to the North Side destination.

Led by professional educators and bird experts, “Disco’s Kids Only Night Out” is packed with avian adventures for children in grades K through 5.

The Burgh’s youngest bird lovers will meet penguins up close, participate in hands-on scavenger hunts and flashlight hikes, and enjoy engaging stories about owls, sloths and more. Participants will also decorate a mug and create a paper cardinal ornament to take home, and will even get to help feed the Aviary’s fruit-eating bats called Malayan Flying Foxes.

The star of the show will be Disco, a seven-pound African penguin who was hatched at the Aviary on December 2, 2013. Be sure to look for the three spots that form a small “V” on his belly! Typically one of the first penguins to arrive at the gate greeting Aviary staff and visitors, Disco stands 18 inches tall. A special ambassador bird, Disco loves to play in the Aviary’s interactive underwater windows. Disco’s dad Sidney was hatched at the Erie Zoo, while his mom Bette was born at the Idaho Falls Zoo.

Also known as the black-footed penguin, the popular and charismatic species is known for its black facial mask, donkey-like bray, distinctive pink patches above its eyes, and unique pattern of a black stripe and black spots on its chest. Once extremely numerous, the African penguin is declining due to a combination of threats and is classified as endangered.

Registration is required and space is limited. Cost is $50 per child (additional $5 for dinner). To register, call 412-258-9439 or email education.programs@aviary.org.

Looking for more holiday happenings with the Aviary’s feathered friends this month? Don’t miss photos with Santa and his penguin pals on December 17, Holiday Penguin Camps on December 28, 29 and 30, scavenger hunts with Valentino the baby sloth, and presentations about Snowy Owls outdoors in Condor Court.

Looking for more events? Check out our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in December and 10 great family adventures in Pittsburgh this December feature stories.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...