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Aviary's Newest Penguins Named after Dan and Mary Beth Bylsma

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Bylsma family has been coming to The National Aviary, America’s premier bird zoo located in the North Side of Pittsburgh, ever since Dan began coaching the Penguins.

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They’ve visited the penguins named after captain Sidney Crosby and former Penguin Max Talbot many times over the years. And now when they stop by, they’ll get to visit a pair of birds named after them.

On Friday afternoon, the Bylsmas were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Aviary was naming the two newest members of their penguin family after the two of them: “Disco Dan” and Mary Beth.

“Since we came to Pittsburgh five and a half years ago we’ve been friends of the Aviary,” Dan said. “We’ve had some great experiences here. We’ve seen some newborns, some babies, some cool things. But we didn’t expect to come here and get Disco Dan and Mary Beth named after us today. We’ve been here to see Sidney and Max. Kind of poke at them through the glass. Now Disco and Mary Beth are back there.”

“It’s great,” said Mary Beth, who credited manager of animal training Cathy Schlott with sparking their involvement with the zoo. “The Aviary has been fantastic. Cathy has become one of our dearest friends. She has shown our family a whole new world and appreciation of what the National Aviary has, so it’s an honor to have penguins named after us and Bryan is really proud as well.”

They and their son Bryan were able to spend some quality time with the flightless birds before being presented with hatch certificates for Disco and Mary Beth and going outside to watch them practice swimming.

Dan and Mary Beth were also given portraits of their namesakes, and Dan joked to Bryan that he would put a photo of him right between the drawings of his new brother and sister.

“I always thought I was going to be an only child, but today I got the news,” Bryan joked of the two new additions to the family. “I think it’s awesome they’re naming the birds after my parents. It’s really great. We love coming here. It’s a great experience.”

Since Disco Dan and Mary Beth hatched in November, they've been living off exhibit under the care of The Aviary’s trainers learning to work with people, as they’ll play an important role in the zoo’s education department teaching about conservation. They've been practicing swimming in the new pool and will officially join the exhibit on April 5. Iceburgh will be there to help them move into their new home.

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