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New Orleans Audubon Zoo

Updated on November 7, 2014
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Louisiana has many unique sites and interesting places to visit. Yvonne enjoys sharing her knowledge of local history, customs and events.

Audubon Institute Park and Zoo

I practically grew up in the Audubon Park and Zoo which has always been located in historic Uptown New Orleans, along an undeveloped section of the Mississippi River. From the time I could ride my bike, I spent many happy hours exploring in this natural area in the middle of the city. As with most zoos, back in the 1950s the housing for the animals wasn't as accommodating as it is today, but I knew every animal by name and had some interesting encounters with some of them.

Today the world renowned Audubon Nature Institute is a show place which encompasses Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Insectarium.

Audubon entrance photo: GNU Free Documentation License

Growing Up a Stone's Throw from Audubon Zoo

When I was a kid, I learned early that all animals were special so most of my free time was spent in the park and at the zoo. My Mom started taking me to the Audubon Zoo when I was about 3 years old. When I was able to get around on my own, I headed straight for the park and zoo. My Dad thought I spent too much time in the zoo, so I would always have to listen for the lions roar when they fed them at 5:00, then jump on my bike and peddle as fast as I could to make it home before Dad got back from work.

Regal Lion


Audubon Zoo MP3

A couple of versions of a New Orleans favorite, The Audubon Zoo.... and they all asked for you.

Speckled Kingsnake Poster on Zazzle


Reptile House

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My favorite exhibit was the Reptile House. Reptiles have always fascinated me and the Audubon Zoo had quite a collection. Even today they are collaborating with several other conservation organizations, to track captive-bred Louisiana pine snakes that have been tagged with radio receivers. These snakes were released on land owned by the International Paper Company and helped to determine population densities of this rare reptile.

White Alligator


The Bear


I spent a lot of time with the bear and began to think that we had a sort of kinship. One day, I decided to pet him so I climbed over the barrier and went up to the cage. First I began feeding peanuts to the bear as usual. He came over and stuck his nose through the bars. I thought that he was showing me that I could pet him, so I scratched him on the nose with one finger for a while. It was going fine until he clamped down very lightly on my finger and held it in his mouth. I froze and we looked each other in the eyes. He exerted just enough pressure to keep my finger there and then after a minute or so, he let it go.

That bear taught me a strong lesson about respecting wild animals. I could have left there without a finger, but instead, I left much smarter and with a great appreciation for the generosity of that bear.

The Sea lions

I was such a regular at the zoo that the zoo keeper, who fed the sea lions, let me help throw the fish to them. Each sea lion knew it's name and leaped above the water for their fish. Some of the sea lions could even do tricks. It was great fun and as I got older, I discovered that it also impressed some of the cute girls who came to the zoo.

Audubon Sea Lion Pool Postcard
Audubon Sea Lion Pool Postcard

Audubon Park Zoo Sea Lion Pool Postcard circa 1920s or 30's is public domain.

Sea Lion Feeding at Audubon Zoo

Monkey Island


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Monkey Island was an island in the middle of the lagoon where Rhesus and other monkeys were kept. Pop drove the swanboat past the island each day and gave it's history to the riders. On the island were things for them to climb on and a shelter for them to sleep. There was no fence. The theory was that the water would keep the monkeys on the island, but the monkeys were very resourceful and used logs and other debris to escape. Some stayed on the island, but many lived in the trees all over the park. Today the island in the lagoon is still there, but the monkeys have much better quarters in another part of the zoo.

Today's Zoo

Audubon Zoo offers an exotic mix of animals from around the globe, as well as engaging educational programs complete with hands-on animal encounters and lush gardens. The relationship between people and nature is showcased with unique natural habitat exhibits, such as the award-winning Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle. Audubon Zoo is ranked among the country's best for innovation and entertainment value.

It's come a long way since the 50's when I donated my Easter chicken to the barnyard exhibit, which I was able to visit on a continual basis.


Today, you can see the sea lion and elephant presentations; highly endangered whooping cranes; Amur leopards and orangutans; white tigers Rex and Zulu; and the mysterious white alligators. An updated version of Monkey Hill provides fun for kids and adults alike.

For a larger, printable version of the Audubon Zoo map, Click Here

White Tiger Poster

A white tiger like the ones at Audubon Zoo.

Hours of Audubon Zoo

All Audubon facilities open at 10 am, Tuesday - Sunday.

All Audubon Facilities are closed on Mondays.

Audubon Zoo

Tuesday - Friday, 10 am - 4 pm

Saturday and Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm

Zoo will be closed Friday, May 7, 2010

All facilities are closed Mardi Gras Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Audubon Zoo Map

6500 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA:
6500 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA

get directions

White Tiger


Post Script

This page telling of his exploits as a young boy in the Audubon Park Zoo was written by my husband, Al Bordelon. Al left this earth a few years ago, but his work lives on.

© 2009 Yvonne L B


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