Chicken,turkey,duck aviary at zoo


10 Years
May 15, 2009
Hi all,
I've been on this site just for fun and when I built the coop for my own chickens last summer..However now I have a big challenge ahead of me. I'll take some pics tomorrow,,but I have a big job ahead of me at my work. I work as a manager of a small local zoo. The zoo has a very large "aviary" that is barren and has about 6 wild turkeys (both male and females) and some assorted ducks (not sure what kind yet)..This poor space is very neglected and needs a major overhaul.

Funds are minimal. I am up for any and all advice!! I need tips on ground cover, feeding, overall structure,etc. I am unsure of the exact lenght of the space. I'm guessing 75-100 feet long and about 6 feet deep and 12 feet tall.

The area is a long rectangular (fenced in)shape, open on top in the center (I am hoping to add some bird net over the top to prevent anything from getting in), with two walk in spaces on each end. There is a ditch that runs the length of the space to act as a "river"...this usually gets minimal water flow, and if raining floods out.
The ground is dirt. Right now there is a very tiny dog house in there wich one hen duck has laid eggs.

I would like to add ground cover, but unsure what to use--options I have that are on hand are mulch donated from landfill, cypress screened mulch, sand, peagravel, crushed stone. We have lumber if I need to build some "huts" or houses for them

I'd like to add a "pool" ,but it would have to be simple and not utilize a pump for this season due to budget restrictions.
Also, what do you guys feed your turkeys/ducks?

I know that pictures are worth a thousand words, I'll take some tomorrow and post.
thanks in advance!
How about contacting your local garden club for assistance? They know what grows well in your area. Also most perrenial gardeners that are members--like me--always have plants that could be divided and donated. (ie ornamental grasses and hostas) And then posting a little sign in your display acknowledging them would be nice and a boost to the garden club as well. In my area alot of the garden club members are retired and have time to help with ideas and are extremely knowledgable and willing to pass on their know-how. I looked into becoming a Master Gardener, that requires volunteer gardening/community work, perhaps someone like that could help.... just making up the plan and being able to draw it out would be a huge start!
Waterfowl are hard to house well (and aesthetically-pleasingly) in combination with other poultry in a confined space, because they are so messy/muddy. Any chance of splitting the aviary space into part for ducks, part for turkeys and any other chickens or guineas or whatever that you might get? That would really be easiest and most effective.

Any pool should be constructed so that it can be drained FREQUENTLY, like possibly daily or at least weekly (depending on duck population and size of pool). It is easiest to do this if the pool is raised a little (not sunk in the ground) so you can just open a drain and let a hose lead the water away to, well, wherever zoos dump their skanky "used" water. Then you can either refill the pond, or put a bit of clean water in and scrub it all out (you will have to do this periodically) and drain and then refill for real. Waterfowl are just REAL REAL hard on water quality, and especially if you need to look presentable for the public, easy drainability should be priority #1 in my opinion.

Personally I'd be real leery about using municipal-landfill mulch for any animal housing, as IME it tends to contain all sorts of exciting bits of plastic and metal that animals can eat and die. Among your other options, it depends quite a bit on your climate and what the site drainage is like. One reasonable option would be to use some of several materials in different parts of the pen, and see what works best, and then next year or the year after, convert to all "that".

As far as landscaping with plants, I would think that most of the things applicable to chicken runs are already normal practice for landscaping any zoo animal runs -- using tough as nails plants, ensuring they have adequate drainage with the soil loosened around/below the roots where the specimen is planted, and using rocks or buried pavers or whatever to prevent animals from digging the plants right back up (poultry do scratch around a lot, and dig dustbaths, and prefer previously-disturbed soil in shady areas i.e. exactly what you produce when you plant something in the run

Good luck, have fun,

oh...the zoo is in Maryland...sorry forgot to add that before.

Been awhile since I"ve posted. But wanted to update. The "poultry" run area of the zoo is finally going to get some much needed attention. Although waterfowl are beautiful, due to issue's with being able to keep the water well filtered,clean and drained from any "pond" at this point isn't practical. So instead we are going with various types of other birds. We currently have 7 turkeys. 3 males and 4 females.

We also have one red golden pheasant that was found as a stray, he is currently in his own pen. The pen is very long, and currently divided into three sections. Two small sections are completely fenced. One big section isn't--but we will be doing this soon.

Working on getting pics up when I can figure it out..

If you were going to a zoo, what types of poultry would you love to see?

Here is a pic of the entire enclosure, pen on closest side is fully fenced, then middle is open and currently empty, then another mirror image pen on the far end that is fully fenced.

Any ideas for making this an unique exhibit??
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