Audubon Nature Institute Press Kit

Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Nature Institute is a unique private, not-for-profit organization with an expansive collection of world-class attractions, conservation programs, facilities and wilderness lands, sustainability initiatives, events, venues, and public parks all connected by the common purpose of celebrating, protecting, and connecting guests to the wonders of nature.

Audubon Nature Institute is:

·       Audubon Zoo

·       Audubon Park

·       Audubon Riverview Park

·       Audubon Aquarium

·       Audubon Insectarium

·       Woldenberg Riverfront Park

·       Audubon Louisiana Nature Center

·       Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center

·       Audubon Wilderness Park

·       Audubon Aquarium Rescue

·       Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.)

Primary Annual Events

·       Hancock Whitney Zoo-to-Do

·       Zoo-to-Do for Kids presented by Children’s Hospital

·       Scales & Ales

·       Boo at the Zoo benefitting Children’s Hospital New Orleans and Audubon Zoo

Economic Impact

Audubon Nature Institute employs more than 400 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 on the seven-parish New Orleans Metropolitan Area of $686 million a year.

Quick Facts

·       Began as “Friends of the Zoo” in 1974

·       Approximate annual operating budget: $50 million

·       Approximate annual capital budget: $14 million

·       More than 30,000 Member households

·       Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium rank in top 10 nationally

·       President and CEO: L. Ronald Forman

More on Audubon Aquarium and Audubon Insectarium

Located adjacent to the historic New Orleans French Quarter on the banks of the Mississippi River, Audubon Aquarium recently underwent a $41 million renovation that included relocating Audubon Insectarium into the new, reimagined, and redesigned Audubon Aquarium and Audubon Insectarium complex, combining two top-rated experiences in one expansive state-of-the art facility with a new two-story atrium overlooking the Mississippi River. They are the newest major attractions in New Orleans in the only place of its kind in the world housing both an aquarium and an insectarium.

Aquarium Highlights

·       An unparalleled riverfront location in Woldenberg Riverfront Park with stunning views overlooking the Mississippi

·       Aquatic environments and wildlife from around the world

·       More than one million gallons of fresh and saltwater

·       Animal presentations and feedings that help visitors understand and appreciate the creatures of the deep

Audubon’s two downtown attractions, Audubon Aquarium and Audubon Insectarium, have welcomed more than 40 million guests since the Aquarium opened in September 1990.

Audubon Aquarium features more than 3,600 animals representing more than 250 species including ones that are endangered, such as African penguins, or rare, such as the white alligator (Audubon’s signature alligator is leucistic, a gene mutation resulting in white skin and blue eyes, rather than albino).

From the moment guests arrive “Down the Bayou” they are immersed in the sounds and feel of Louisiana. This exhibit introduces guests to the leucistic alligator as well as some of his pigmented cousins, local birds, turtles, and other fish residing in the waters of Louisiana.

The new shark and ray touchpool gives guests the opportunity to interact with small sharks and rays and see daily training and educational programming. The pool measures 60-feet-long by 16 feet at its widest point, narrowing to about nine feet in the middle. It is inhabited by several species of rays and small sharks.

A colony of warm-climate African penguins are sure to delight Aquarium visitors with their antics. Their exhibit recently had new rocks and nesting areas added to give the penguins more living quarters and access to swimming.

The Aquarium’s Amazon Rainforest transports guests into the sounds and feel of the Amazon River Basin. Lush plants help tell the story of the interaction between the humans, plants, and animals that reside in the Amazon. Colorful birds dart through the trees, and tiny poison dart frogs, piranha and anaconda are among the unique residents in this exhibit. Amazon Encounters is a new addition to the Aquarium and features Linnaeus two-toed sloths, armadillos, tortoises, and a myriad of colorful birds in an outdoor environment.

Guests can walk beneath the waves in the Great Maya Reef exhibit which features a clear, 30-foot-long tunnel and aquatic creatures of all shapes and sizes gliding overhead. This popular 132,000-gallon exhibit gives guests the chance to imagine themselves immersed in a submerged Mayan city of mysterious ruins, this underwater world of the ancient metropolis is alive with colorful fish, rays, and other creatures of the deep.

The 450,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit can be experienced from above its waters in the “Life in the Gulf” area which gives guests a chance to peer into the depths to see sharks, rays, and tarpon swimming below them. A one-quarter scale model of an offshore oil rig in the exhibit provides thriving environments for all types of marine life. One of the most popular residents at the Aquarium lives here – look for King Mydas, the 250-pound green sea turtle and learn about what you can do to help protect this endangered species. Later in their visit, guests will see this enclosure from another viewpoint - through its enormous acrylic walls that provide a nearly eye-to-eye encounter with the amazing animals in the Gulf of Mexico.

Audubon Insectarium Highlights

Audubon Insectarium, newly relocated in the complex with Audubon Aquarium, provides an exciting look at the important role these amazing animals play: they pollinate our crops, add beauty and diversity to our world, and make up the largest group of animals on the planet. Guests discover why insects and their relatives are the building blocks of all life on Earth and along the way marvel at their beauty and variety.

Insectarium galleries include:

New 264 square foot giant-sized motion reactive display wall that uses the latest interactive technology to bring images of butterflies and lighting bugs to life, reacting to guests as they walk nearby.

The Field Camp, where visitors meet live insects and find out what it takes to be an entomologist working in the field.

The Diversity Gallery showcases different types of insects and their relatives including some you might not consider as part of this family of animals.

Bug Appétit, an adventure in eating where you can guests learn how insects are an important food source in many cultures around the world – and even sample a few delectable creations.

Metamorphosis illustrates the incredible life cycle of insects through a working husbandry lab that shows how insects reproduce and grow and shows guests the miracle of butterflies emerging from chrysalises.

The Butterfly Garden features hundreds of butterflies flying through a lush garden setting with sweeping views of the Mississippi River. This is a thrilling experience and a fun way to learn about various types of butterflies and moths.

Audubon Zoo Highlights

Located in historic Uptown New Orleans’ Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo is consistently one of the country’s top-ranked zoos, voted as one of the top ten zoos in the country in the USA Today “10Best” reader poll and ranked as one of the top things to do in New Orleans by Trip Advisor. The Zoo offers more than 50 acres of pathways and boardwalks in a beautifully landscaped gardenlike setting, including innovative natural habitat exhibits and a wide variety of more than 1,700 animals representing more than 350 species.

The latest exhibit at Audubon Zoo is the new Wings of the World located in the newly restored and much beloved Tropical Bird House and is part of the historic Odenheimer area of the Zoo dating back to 1924. It is the largest and most immersive experience of its kind in the region. It includes a walk through free-flight aviary with more than 60 birds from around the world, including endangered species like the Guam Kingfisher and Bali Myna. Guests can even spot new chicks hatched since the exhibit opened in March 2023.

Other Zoo features include:

One of the most popular exhibits is Asia, including the critically endangered Sumatran  orangutans,  Asian elephants, babirusas, a Malayan tiger, a Malayan sun bear, and barasingha deer

World of Primates features gorillas, mandrills, siamangs, golden lion tamarins, and many more species

In African Savannah, guests see a pride of lions, white rhinoceros and several varieties of African antelope, as well as Watoto Walk and Farm, where visitors can interact with domestic species such as sheep and goats while learning about African agricultural customs

Jaguar Jungle transports guests to Central America with an archeological dig, spider monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, and the “Criaturas de la Noche” Nocturnal House

The Louisiana Swamp Exhibit is the world’s only urban swamp, showcasing animals from South Louisiana such as black bears, bobcats, foxes, and the rare white alligators

False gharials, king cobras, rattlesnakes, and a Komodo dragon are found in the Reptile Encounter

Experiences such as the famous Monkey Hill created to give New Orleans children a hill to play on, multiple playgrounds, and the Cool Zoo splash park with the Gator Run lazy river offer ways for little ones and their families to enjoy and keep cool

Up-close animal presentations are scheduled throughout the zoo at various times during the day

The Swamp Train takes visitors throughout the Zoo with stops at major areas

Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center

Since 1993, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center has worked to boost dwindling populations of disappearing animal species through research science and population management. The Survival Center continues its mission to save disappearing species working with species including the Mississippi sandhill crane, whooping crane, bongo antelope, okapi, giraffe, blue-billed curassow, and barasingha, by allowing them to breed in large, naturalistic habitats.

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 Audubon Wilderness Park, and is the operational space for Audubon programs such as:

Audubon Coastal Wildlife  Network (CWN) which serves as the primary response partner of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for rescuing and rehabilitating dolphins and sea turtles.

Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.), which works to ensure our region’s fisheries and commercial seafood industry are sustainable and provide leadership and guidance on responsible fishery management.

Audubon Park

Audubon Park is an urban Eden in the heart of historic Uptown New Orleans. This peaceful oasis has beckoned generations of New Orleanians and visitors with its quiet beauty, shimmering lagoons, allées of ancient live oaks, a tranquil 1.8-mile jogging path, a lagoon, picnic shelters, playgrounds, and more than 4,000 trees. Audubon Park is open to the public and features tennis courts, riding stables, soccer fields, the Whitney Young Pool, Audubon Golf Club and Audubon Clubhouse Café. Located between St. Charles Avenue and the Mississippi River, this 341-acre park was originally part of a plantation and was the site of the 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition. The Park was originally designed by John Charles Olmsted of the Olmsted Brothers Firm, which designed Central Park in New York, the grounds of the United States Capitol and the White House, and the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.

Woldenberg Riverfront Park

Woldenberg Riverfront Park is 13.5 acres of green space, public artwork, and brick pathways located where New Orleans history begins along the Mississippi River at the foot of Canal Street. It was developed on land that had been occupied by old wharves and warehouses and was designed to bring locals and visitors back to the heart of the city.

The Park first opened in October 1989 and has become an iconic gathering spot, anchoring major landmarks, including Audubon Aquarium and Audubon Insectarium. It is home to many popular annual festivals, open-air concerts and cultural events. No visit to New Orleans is complete without a stroll through this riverfront jewel.