The Audubon Zoo consistently ranks as one of the best zoological parks in the country. Officially known as the Audubon Nature Institute named in honor of naturalist and artist John James Audubon, the facility is located in New Orleans’ Historic West Riverside neighborhood. Once part of the nation’s first commercial sugarcane plantation, the 58 acres have been home to animal exhibits since the 1884 World Exposition. John Charles Olmsted, nephew and adopted son of famed landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, was instrumental in designing the surrounding 340-acre park. Modern exhibits that replicate the animals’ native habitats have replaced the original enclosures.
The zoo is designed to allow visitors to enjoy a self-guided walking tour while encountering animals from around the world. Immerse yourself in Louisiana Culture while experiencing peaceful lagoons and plentiful cypress trees in the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit. The Swamp Exhibit evokes the ambiance of the bayou with its Cajun House and post-Hurricane Katrina decorations. Rocking chairs, interspersed throughout the exhibit, beckon visitors to sit back and enjoy the leisurely pace of the swamp. The exhibit is home to black bears, river otters, raccoons and venomous snakes, such as copperheads and cottonmouths. The most fascinating inhabitants in the exhibit are the zoo’s symbolic, white alligators.
From the Swamp Exhibit, it is just a short distance to the grasslands of Africa, where you will encounter giraffes and rhinos grazing inside the African Savannah. Take a jaunt over to the South American Pampas, and you will come across tapirs, emus, and some of the largest rodents on the face of the planet, the capybaras.
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Many park features date from the early 20th century. The sea lion pool, whose decorative columns create one of the most romantic settings in the park, was constructed in 1928. The Depression-era Works Progress Administration created Monkey Hill. It was built so local children could see this type of geological feature firsthand. At 28 feet, the artificial knoll is the highest point in the city. Monkey Hill has rope bridges, wading pools and safari trails. For nearly a century, children have loved rolling down its grassy sides.
Curious about the Mayan culture? Jaguar Jungle will bring you up close and personal with the mysterious jaguars that make their home in a habitat that brings to mind a misty Mayan rainforest. Inside the Asian Domain, you will come face to face with Jean and Panya, the Zoo’s Asian elephants. Larger than life, these ladies are two of the Zoo’s most popular celebrities.
The Dinosaur Exhibit takes guests back in time with animated models of these primeval animals. The Embraceable Zoo is a petting zoo that enables children to interact with free roaming goats and sheep.
The Audubon Aviary pays homage to Mr. Audubon, a devoted ornithologist. The display is a free-flight aviary with rare and endangered birds from around the globe. Guests can watch the Taveta Weaver create its complex nests for potential mates. The African Savanna exhibit mimics the native habitat of giraffes, rhinos, zebras and its other residents. Local celebrities in the Asian Domain include two elephants, Jean and Panya, as well as King Zulu, the zoo’s white tiger.
After spending the day exploring the Zoo’s fascinating habitats, the entire family can cool off at the Cool Zoo. This wet-n-wild water park operates on a seasonal basis and features jumping waterspouts, spray and squirt features, and a gator waterslide. There are even three different splash zones to match the needs of different age groups, including one just for toddlers. You can also enjoy the historic carousel or imagine yourself in the wilderness as you experience the Safari Simulator ride. The park sponsors several interactive and educational programs throughout the day, including guided tours, animal feedings and performances.
Audubon Zoo offers visitors the opportunity to explore some of the most fascinating creatures and habitats in the world. Rated as one of the top zoos in the country, Audubon Zoo is one of the few zoos to house two rare white tigers, King Zulu and King Rex.
Looking for even more adventure? Purchase the Audubon Experience package and save at least 33%.
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