Audubon Nature Institute Press Kit

Audubon Nature Institute

The purpose of the Audubon Nature Institute is celebrating the wonders of nature by creating a Family of parks and museums dedicated to the natural environment.

  • Providing a guest experience of outstanding quality
  • Exhibiting the diversity of wildlife
  • Preserving Louisiana habitats
  • Educating our diverse audience about the natural world
  • Enhancing the care and survival of wildlife through research and conservation
  • Providing opportunities for recreation in natural settings
  • Operating a financially self-sufficient collection of museums and parks •
  • Weaving quality entertainment through the guest experience.

Audubon Nature Institute is a private, not-for-profit member organization with a collection of world-class family attractions dedicated to “Celebrating the Wonders of Nature.” More than three million people visit Audubon Nature Institute’s facilities annually.

Facilities Audubon Nature Institute’s family of museums and parks dedicated to nature include: Audubon Park Audubon Zoo Woldenberg Riverfront Park Audubon Aquarium of the Americas Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center Entergy Giant Screen Theater Audubon Louisiana Nature Center Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.

Audubon Nature Institute has about 500 full-time employees and hundreds of seasonal workers. Audubon Nature Institute contributes significantly to the local and regional tourism economy with an estimated economic impact of $583 million a year.

  • Began as “Friends of the Zoo” in 1974
  • Average annual operating budget: $45 million to $50 million
  • Average annual capital budget: $15 million to $17 million
  • Zoo, Aquarium and Butterfly Garden and Insectarium all ranked in top 10 nationally
  • President and CEO: Ron Forman

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is located along the banks of the Mississippi River in the historic French Quarter. Ranked as one of the top five aquariums in the U.S., a visit to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas spans the underwater world from the Caribbean, to the Amazon Rainforest to the waters that give New Orleans its lifeblood: the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

  • Features the aquatic environments of both North and South American continents.
  • Visited by more than twenty-three million people since opening in September 1990.
  • 10,000 animals representing 400 species including rare and endangered species.
  • The Great Maya Reef exhibit features a clear, 30-foot-long tunnel and aquatic creatures of all shapes and sizes swimming through 132,000 gallons of water. The habitat is 16.5 feet deep and the tunnel is made of acrylic that is five inches thick. Visitors can imagine themselves immersed in a submerged Maya city of mysterious ruins, surrounded by exotic sea creatures. This underwater world of the ancient, flooded metropolis is alive with lion fish, yellowtail snapper, moray eels, spiny lobsters and more all at home among stunning coral, sunken artifacts and forgotten treasure. Guests can dive into fun by signing up for a premium SCUBA dive or a snorkel adventure that offers a face-to-mask introduction to the aquatic animals of the Great Maya Reef.
  • The 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit features a replica of an offshore oil rig. Residents in this exhibit include various shark species, sea turtles, stingrays and the largest tarpon in human care
  • GEAUX FISH! exhibit showcases Louisiana’s fishing industry and explores its importance to our region. It also highlights various game fish, bait fish and commercial seafood of Louisiana. Guests can cast a virtual reel, identify local species, visit a seafood market or hop on a fishing boat.
  • Sea Otter Gallery features rescued Southern Sea Otters in a specially designed 23,000-gallon exhibit.
  • “Frogs” highlights brightly colored and sometimes highly toxic dart frogs known as “jewels of the Amazon.” The exhibit also features Spiny-headed Tree Frogs, Barking Tree Frogs, Amazon Milk Frogs, Tomato Frogs, Green Tree Frogs, Green and Black Dart Frogs, and Hourglass Dart Frogs. Also featured are frog anatomy, frogs in fairy tales, famous frogs, and parenting frog-style.
  • More than one million gallons of fresh and saltwater on display.
  • Seahorse Gallery features a variety of seahorses plus two species of rare seadragons.
  • Colorful and unusual jellyfish from around the world live in the “Jellies” exhibit, including many caught in local Gulf of Mexico waters.
  • Animal presentations and feedings help visitors understand the creatures of the deep. Touch pools give visitors a chance to touch a baby shark and stingrays.
  • One species of warm climate penguins live here: African penguins. Visitors can go behind the scenes for a premium up-close private penguin encounter.
  • The Mississippi River gallery features the creatures of the “Big Muddy” including catfish, paddlefish, and alligator. Rare white alligator is leucistic; a gene mutation has resulted in white skin and blue eyes.

Audubon Zoo

One of the country’s consistently top-ranked zoos, Audubon Zoo entertains visitors with the excitement of animals from around the world and the serenity of colorful gardens. Through innovative natural habitat exhibits and an animal collection ranging from the uniquely extraordinary white alligators to the majestic white tiger, Audubon Zoo has become one of the Gulf South’s favorite family gathering spots.

  • More than 50 acres of pathways and boardwalks in a beautifully landscaped gardenlike setting. • 1,500 fascinating animals representing 360 species, many of them rare and endangered. • More than 80,000 individual members.
  • Visited by more than 800,000 locals and tourists each year.
  • Located on the former site of an 18th century sugar plantation and the 1884 World Exposition.
  • The Louisiana Swamp Exhibit is the world’s only urban swamp, showcasing animals from South Louisiana such as Louisiana black bear, bobcats, foxes and the rare white alligators.
  • Features “Watoto Walk,” where visitors can interact with free-roaming sheep and goats and Cool Zoo, which features a splash park and “Gator Run,’’ a lazy river attraction.
  • Various shows and up-close animal presentations, including ape chats and otter, alligator and giraffe feedings.
  • Jaguar Jungle is a visit to Central America, complete with an archeological dig, spider monkeys and jaguars.
  • World of Primates” features gorillas, mandrills, siamangs, golden lion tamarins and many more animals.
  • The amazing white tiger, Asian elephants, babirusas and Malayan sun bears are exhibited in the “Asian Domain.” • False gharials, King cobras, rattlesnakes and a Komodo dragon are exhibited in the “Reptile Encounter.”
  • Special education programs such as Safari After Dark sessions, Family Nature Club meetings and an Astronomy Day.
  • Swamp train rides take visitors throughout the Zoo with stops at all major exhibits.
  • Festivals and special events scheduled throughout the year, such as Soul Fest, the Get Yah Praise On gospel fest, Earth Fest, Mother’s Day and Boo At The Zoo which all feature music, food and family activities.

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, located in the U.S. Custom House on Canal Street, encourages you to use all five senses as you explore North America’s largest museum devoted to insects and their relatives. You’ll discover why insects are the building blocks of all life on our planet and along the way, you’ll be shrunk to bug size; wander through a mysterious Louisiana swamp; join the active audience of an awards show for bugs, by bugs; and be captivated by thousands of butterflies in an Asian garden.

  • The popular Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation Butterflies in Flight exhibit is a serene, Asian-inspired garden that flutters with life as butterflies swoop and soar from one flower to another— perhaps even resting for a moment on the shoulder of a visitor. Close encounters with these beautiful creatures provide vivid memories that last a lifetime.
  • Be a part of the action. Expect the unexpected as you cheer on the nominees in Awards Night. With the celebrity voices of Joan Rivers and Brad Garrett, Awards Night is a rollicking, gigantic high-definition film about superstar bugs and their outstanding achievements.
  • It's an adventure in eating! Insects are an important source of protein in many cultures and a culinary delight if cooked correctly. Grab a seat in Bug Appétit and watch Audubon’s chefs incorporate bugs into their dishes—and sample some of their exotic creations.
  • Visitors meet some live insects at Field Camp and find out what it takes to be an entomologist in a tropical jungle.
  • The Zemurray Foundation Louisiana Swamp Gallery offers a recreated wetlands habitat with a life-sized cypress tree, aquatic insects, alligators and other creatures. Special sound and lighting effects simulate dawn to dusk.
  • The Goldring Family Foundation and The Woldenberg Foundation Hall of Fame Gallery illustrates the incredible life cycle of insects. A working husbandry lab shows how insects reproduce and grow. Guests may see the miracle of butterflies emerging from chrysalises and learn how to help insects and their habitats.
  • Visitors to the Richard C. Colton, Jr. Underground Gallery shrink to the size of an insect with gigantic animatronic bugs, oversized exhibits and surprises around every turn. Feel what it is like to be the size of an ant while learning about the huge impact bugs have on the environment we all share.

Entergy Giant Screen Theater 

Entergy Giant Screen Theater, located next door to Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, is one of only a handful of theaters in the world with its spectacular flat screen and high definition capabilities. Visitors are immersed in images of unsurpassed size, clarity and impact. Sounds are enhanced by a specially designed six-channel, multi-speaker sound system. The silver screen at the Entergy Giant Screen Theatre is five-and-a-half stories tall. Here are some facts about Entergy Giant Screen Theater:

  • The screen is 54' by 74', which is the same height as a five-and-a-half story building
  • The screen is three times the size of a normal movie screen
  • There are 354 seats in the theater

Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center

Since 1993, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center has worked to boost dwindling populations of disappearing animal species. In large, minimally-developed enclosures, species such as sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, several species of endangered storks, clouded leopards, Mexican grey wolves, red wolves, bongo antelope and eland have lived and bred in seclusion.

The Survival Center is operated by Audubon Nature Institute and sits on 1,200 acres of U.S. Coast Guard and City of New Orleans land along the Mississippi River. It includes undeveloped acreage around Wilderness Park, a protected archaeological dig site and it is also home base for programs such as Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, where reproductive research produced dozens of world’s firsts in areas such as breeding of wild felids.

Programs at the Survival Center include:

  • Coastal Wildlife Center (CWN) – Protecting, conserving and promoting the Gulf coast and its wildlife. CWN, coordinated by Audubon Nature Institute, serves as the primary response partner for Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for rehabilitating marine mammals (dolphins, whales, manatees) and sea turtles.
  • Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.) – Working to assure our region’s seafood is sustainable and providing leadership in the field of responsible management.
  • Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife - a partnership between Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global. This program will devise strategies to ensure sustainable populations of zoo animals as a haven for more than two dozen mammal and bird species that are declining in population. Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife is located on 400 acres of the Survival Center campus. It plans to enclose large natural-habitat holding areas for groups of herding animals and large-bodied birds with minimal disruption to the surrounding forest while preserving existing naturally wild areas.

Audubon Park

Audubon Park is an urban Eden in the heart of uptown New Orleans. This peaceful mecca has beckoned generations of New Orleanians and visitors with its quiet beauty, shimmering lagoons, fragrant gardens, recreation areas, an array of local wildlife and more than 4,000 live oaks and other trees. Located between St. Charles Avenue and the Mississippi River, this 400-acre park was originally part of a plantation and was the site of the 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition.

Woldenberg Riverfront Park

Woldenberg Riverfront Park Located on the majestic banks of the Mississippi River in the historic French Quarter, this beautiful park showcases Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Entergy Giant Screen Theater. The park, an excellent example of returning urban waterfronts to public use, is 17 acres of green space, public artwork, and brick pathways designed to bring visitors back to the heart of the city. Open-air concerts are frequently held at the park’s Capital One Pavilion and the park’s Great Lawn hosts many popular festivals.

Audubon Louisiana Nature Center

Open soon - Audubon Louisiana Nature Center will return as a treasured greenspace for family recreation and environmental education in New Orleans East.

  • The Phase 1 restoration of the 86-acre site in Joe W. Brown Park will bring back many of the popular features that were built in the years following the Nature Center’s 1980 opening, including a planetarium, an 8,500-square-foot Exhibit Pavilion, a glass and steel greenhouse botany Center, classrooms, interactive education exhibits, a network of trails and covered boardwalks, extensive landscaping and parking.
  • The design will allow for exhibits to be moved easily to convert indoor space for community events.
  • The Louisiana Nature Center opened its doors in March 1980, offering a scenic interpretation of the Mississippi River Delta and Louisiana Coastal Zone in Joe W. Brown Park.
  • In 1993, the facility merged with the Audubon Nature Institute and was renamed Audubon Louisiana Nature Center.
  • In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath left the Nature Center swamped beneath six feet of water for more than a month, severely damaging its forests and destroying its interpretive space center.
  • The Nature Center has remained closed since the storm as Audubon’s leadership met with representatives of FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of engineers, city and state government and community leaders to map out the restoration strategy.