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Audubon Zoo

Audubon is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has been operating since 1916.

The zoo is operated by the Audubon Nature Institute who operate a number of park’s and wildlife attractions including the Audubon Aquarium of the Aquariums and the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.


6500 Magazine St,

New Orleans, LA


During 1914 a commission was established to maintain Audubon Park the future location of Audubon Zoo. During 1916 this group added a flight cage to the park. As the community got this experience they began to call for a full-scale zoo.

The community leaders formed the New Orleans Zoological Society which began to take in private donations. These led to a monkey cage, mammal cage and deer paddock being assembled in the park. Louisiana schoolchildren went on to fund the purchase of an elephant in 1924. By 1929 hundred of animals called the park home including a new aquarium and sea lion pool.

Audubon Zoo


New Orleans,



Year Opened


Land Size

23ha (58acres)

Number of Animals


Work on an official zoo almost ended in 1930s though due to the depression. Luckily though the Works Progress Administration helped construct buildings and in 1938 Valentine Merz contributed $50,000 allowing the Merz Memorial Zoo to finally open.

This zoo, though expensive to maintain, managed to hold up into the 1950s. The city began to pull funding at this time and public interest as well as donations waned. The zoo was billed as an ‘animal ghetto’ though there were a few glimmers of hope such as the 1956 birth of the first endangered whooping crane born in a zoo. That didn’t stop the U.S. Humane Society from ordering that the zoo ‘clean up or close up’ in 1970.

It was through the dedication of community volunteers the zoo was able to continue. The Audubon commission spearheaded a referendum that lead to $2 million in bond funds being approved that would help restore the zoo. The volunteers went on to form the Friends of the Zoo with Ron Forman, the City Hall Liaison for Audubon Park joining the board in 1973 and creating the master plan. The Audubon Commission expanded the zoo to its current size and the African savannah, North American grasslands, South American Pampas, World of Primates and Children’s Zoo enclosures.

This restoration allowed the zoo gain accreditation from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association during 1981. The Louisiana Swamp debuted in 1984 impressing industry peers. This meteoric rise led the zoo to be ranked as one of the country’s best zoological parks.

In 1989 the Friends of the Zoo became the Audubon Nature Institute. They began to oversee new projects and the growth of the society to include an aquarium and IMAX theatre. The zoo was expanded with komodo dragons and the jaguar jungle habitat, they also added a new state-of-the-heart Animal Healthcare Centre along with a new entrance.

Recent new additions to the zoo have included an orangutan exhibit in 2015, a remodeled elephant habitat in 2016 and an extension to jaguar jungle which included a nocturnal exhibit in 2018.

Star Animals

White Alligators

Audubon Zoo has been home to a number of white alligators over time. These animals exhibit leucisim, a rare trait which leads to the skin having no pigment in parts of their body. They are not albino as they still have pigment in some spots such as the eyes. Many of the gators displayed at the zoo have been found in swamps around the area.


Cool Zoo

Cool zoo is a splash park with jumping water spouts, an alligator water slide, water spitting snakes and much more. There is also a special splash park for younger children.

Gottesman Family Endangered Species Carousel

The endangered species carousel has 60 animals on which kids can ride on.

Swamp Train

This land train takes you for a ride behind the scenes of a range of exhibits with narration to help you better understand the different habitats.

Monkey Hill

Constructed in the 1930s legend says that monkey hill was designed to show Louisianas children what hills looked like. Now kids can play in a five story treehouse with rope bridges, wading pools and room to roll down the hill.

Main Exhibits

African Savannah

Zebra’s, monkeys and giraffes looking for a feed can be seen at the African savannah habitat.

Asian Domain

Babirusa, orangutans, sun bears and a tiger can be found here. They live alongside one of the zoo’s most popular animals, the elephants.

Audubon Aviary

30 species of bird will fly around your head as you enter their enclosure. There are rare birds such as the Blue-Crowned Laughinthrush’s and colourful ones such as the scarlet ibis and nicobar pigeon. This aviary also houses the incredibly active Taveta Golden Weaver who spends his time weaving a nest so they can find a mate.

Flamingo Exhibit

This is the first exhibit guests see when they enter. They can be seen raising their eggs or frolicking in the water.

Jaguar Jungle

A misty rainforest habitat is home to the jaguar alongside spider monkey’s, macaws and ocelots. The space features recreated ruins, a dig site for finding hidden treasure and a glass window for up close viewing.

In 2018 the exhibit was expanded with a nocturnal house featuring a range of South American reptiles and amphibians alongside bats and douroucoulis.

Louisiana Swamp

This enclosure shows off the relationships between Cajun people, food, industry and life. These people only take what they eat and use earth’s resources economically. Through animals such as blacks bears, red foxes, blue crabs and water snakes people can learn about conservation.

Reptile encounter

Many reptiles can be found in this enclosure including chameleons, komodo dragons, rattle snakes, cobras and eyelash vipers.

Sea Lions

This enclosure dating back to 1928 is one of the zoos most popular features. This theatre is home to the daily sea lion training shows where they show off their smarts.

South American Pampas

The capybara, the world’s largest rodents, rheas, tapirs and gunacos inhabit this enclosure.

World of Primates

The zoo’s gorillas can be seen swinging through the trees at this enclosure. Lemurs, tamarins and siamangs are also visible.


Audubon Zoo Website –

Mabry, K., 2014. Rare Gators Got Their Start In A Terrebonne Swamp. [online] WWLTV Available at: <–267042591.html> [Accessed 16 May 2020].

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