The sparkle and flash of more than 100 flitting, zipping, and hovering treasures greeted guests on October 2, 1964, when the new Hummingbird Aviary opened at the Zoo. The round-topped aviary was 64 feet long, 24 feet wide, and 12 feet high and housed one of the finest collections of tropical Brazilian hummingbirds, representing 23 different species. Located between Wegeforth Bowl and the Children’s Zoo, the walk-through aviary was planted with tropical plants, and more than 60 other tropical bird species joined the hummingbirds.
The only thing more remarkable than the birds themselves was the extraordinary lengths that K.C. Lint went to in order to bring them safely to San Diego. He and his wife, Marie, and his son, Roland, flew to Santa Teresa, Brazil, to get the birds. Each tiny bird was wrapped in a specially designed “hummingbird jacket,” and all the birds were carefully placed in three compartmentalized carrying cases. The cases had flexible tops with air holes, which could be rolled back to reveal the safely bundled—and therefore calm—birds. Throughout the 16 1/2-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro, the Lints continuously offered rounds of sugar water to the birds to keep them fed and hydrated until they reached their new home in San Diego. Now that’s dedication to one’s feathered friends!