Elephant Exhibit at Audubon Zoo Receives $1 Million Gift
Thanks, in part, to the generosity of New York real estate developer Jeffrey Feil and the Charitable Lead Annuity Trust Under the Will of Louis Feil, the new elephant exhibit at Audubon Zoo has a whole new look.
A $1 million gift from the Charitable Lead Annuity Trust was key to construction of an elevated education pavilion that provides Zoo visitors a birds-eye view of the new home for Panya and Jean, the beloved Asian elephants at Audubon Zoo. Finishing touches are almost complete at the elephant exhibit and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, April 26.
In addition to offering plenty of shade, the education pavilion is an engaging, Asian-themed interpretive center where Zoo educators will display artifacts and host chats with guests.
The Feil family, whose local commercial holdings include Lakeside Shopping Center, Lakeway Center office complex and the Galleria office building in Metairie has long been a fixture in the New Orleans area business community.
"Over the years, we've been very fortunate with our commercial investments in the New Orleans area and we see this gift as our way of giving back to the community. Audubon Zoo holds a special place in the hearts of New Orleanians and we are happy to support what is clearly one of the premier family destinations in America.''
A decorative awning extends over the pavilion's boardwalk where visitors will enjoy games and activities designed to teach guests about Asian culture, including a "video coloring book.'' A series of graphics will greet visitors who will learn about the important role elephants have played in Indian culture and history.
"We extend our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Feil and his family for helping Audubon Zoo bring the new education pavilion to life.This extraordinary gift is a testament to the Feil family's philanthropic spirit and dedication to New Orleans.''
Audubon Zoo's new elephant enclosure is contoured with gentle inclines, shade trees, an "enrichment log,'' which allows the elephants to forage for food, and two elephant pools: a four-foot splash pool on one end and a 12-foot-deep immersion pool on the other close to the Cool Zoo water park.
The immersion pool is separated from a splash pad in Cool Zoo by only a Plexiglass divide, allowing guests to feel like they're splashing with the elephants. The exhibit also features a new elephant barn that closely resembles the Works Progress Administration (WPA)-style architecture of the iconic barn that debuted in the late 1930s. The old elephant barn has been retrofitted and is now home to the Zoo's orangutans.
The new elephant habitat is part of a major redesign of the Asian Domain area of the Zoo that includes the new orangutan and leopard exhibits.