Share This Page

National Aviary in Pittsburgh fires executive director

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 2:56 p.m.
Pat Mangus during Night at the Tropics at the National Aviary on Saturday, July 16, 2011. Mike Mancini | Tribune-Review
Pat Mangus, executive director of the National Aviary Aimee Obidzinski | Tribune-Review

The National Aviary's trustees ousted its executive director over a “difference of opinion,” less than four years after the previous director resigned for much the same reason.

Patrick T. Mangus Jr. headed the renowned bird zoo in the city's North Side beginning in early 2009 when he replaced CEO Linda Dickerson. She stepped down during the first phase of a $23 million expansion.

The decision to oust Mangus was made at a board meeting on Wednesday, said board president Anthony R. Bridge.

“The board agreed that we should discontinue him. His services are no long needed at the aviary. There is a difference of opinion about how the aviary should be operated,” Bridge said. He would not elaborate, saying, “It would not be fair to him or to the aviary.”

Mangus could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Bridge declined to answer questions about whether Mangus received severance pay. He earned $120,680 annually, according to charitynavigator.org.

The board named chief operating officer Cheryl Tracy as the aviary's interim executive director.

The aviary's website says its collection includes more than 600 birds of more 200 species from around the world. It operates on an annual budget of almost $3.9 million.

Mangus, 63, joined the aviary in 2007 as chief operating officer. A graduate of Ohio University, he worked for many years in public relations, was a board member of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, and volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

When Dickerson resigned, she raised concerns about the aviary board's willingness to operate transparently, provide access for people with disabilities and promote diversity.

At the time, Dickerson said she fought with the board to make a penguin exhibit accessible for people in wheelchairs. She cautioned that the aviary might need to scale back its expansion plan because of the weak economy.

The aviary has roots in the late 19th century as part of Pittsburgh's first plant conservatory. The city rebuilt it 1952. It's one of the few zoos in the country to display birds in free-flight rooms.

When city budget cuts threatened to close the institution in 1991, Save the Aviary Inc., a private nonprofit corporation, formed. It became a private entity in 1992. A year later, by declaration of Congress, the Pittsburgh Aviary earned honorary national status and changed its name to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.