I went on down to the Audubon Zoo…
People who live in New Orleans know that the next line is “and they all ask’d for you” (If you don’t know this local tune, google the Meters or search youtube to listen.)
If you are new to the city or are in the process of relocating, you might not know that New Orleans boasts one of the finest zoos in the U.S. That hasn’t always been the case, because I remember how sad and smelly it was when I was growing up. For years, attendance was low as locals rejected the zoo as sub-par. My, how things have changed.
Now, the Audubon Zoo is one of the most popular family destinations in the city and the beautiful spring weather we have been enjoying drew us down for a visit this weekend. Vibrant and colorful, with the animals in their natural habitats, the zoo is a magnet for families and visitors alike and is one of the best managed places to visit in New Orleans.
With a focus on education, the zoo provides detailed information at each exhibit about the animals on display. There are zoo keepers and volunteers spread throughout the grounds for the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the residents too (and no, I did not touch that Burmese Python!)
On the Discovery Walk, I was thrilled to find the Eco Pond and see that the Audubon Institute is encouraging and educating about sustainability. In the same section of the zoo, we found a small garden where the kids can see fresh herbs and vegetables growing. Some of the vegetation is still showing signs of the hard freezes this winter, but for the most part everything was lush and green…a testament to the folks in charge.
For a child raised here, no trip to the zoo would be complete without visiting Monkey Hill. Built in 1933 with earth hauled from the river and excavated from the Audubon Park lagoons, this was the first hill in New Orleans. When I was young, I remember this was my favorite part of a trip to the zoo, since New Orleans is so flat. At 27 1/2 feet high, we thought we were climbing a mountain! The Hill has definitely changed over the years, though. What used to be just a grassy hill now has a water feature and deck levels for playing.
Of course, the zoo is filled with the expected elephants, giraffes, lions and tigers. The exhibits are divided based on the origin of the animals, with Primate World, the African Savanna, the Asian Domain and more. As is probably the case in most zoos, the primates had the biggest crowds as parents and children alike watched the monkeys, baboons and gorillas…and the primates disdainfully ignored us all.
Audubon Zoo is located at 6500 Magazine Street and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm with free public parking. For more information about special events, online ticket sales and family memberships, visit the zoo’s website or call (800) 774-7394 or (504) 581-4629.
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