Once a plantation outside the bustling port city of New Orleans,
Audubon Park now exists in one of the city’s famous historic
residential districts. Its many uses have included the site for the
World’s Fair and Cotton Centennial Exposition in 1884, and the
Natatorium, once the South’s largest swimming pool.
Now, Audubon Park is home to meandering paths that follow
centuries-old, moss-laden oak trees and numerous lagoons, a
botanical gardens and a first-class golf course.
But what visitors come to see most within the 247-acre park is
the renowned Audubon Zoo.
Nestled at the riverside of the massive park, the zoo offers
acres of a variety of exhibits that range from the dark and exotic
creatures of the Reptile Encounter to the enchanting Children’s Zoo
with its new Endangered Species Carousel.
A casual trip through Audubon Zoo can take all day. There are
special exhibits, such as the Jaguar Jungle, where Jabiru storks,
sloths and spider monkeys dance within a Mayan-themed rainforest
habitat. The white tiger exhibit has always been a popular draw,
and the sibling tigers that are close to 380 pounds each are a new
The Louisiana Swamp Exhibit offers a trip back in time to a
1930s swamp settlement, complete with trapper’s cottage and cypress
swamp. The stagnant water is filled with alligators, raccoons,
nutria, snakes and other swamp critters, including an albino
Every fall, the Audubon swamp comes alive with the sounds of
Cajun and zydeco music, in addition to crafts and local food,
during the annual Louisiana Swamp Fest. This year’s event will take
place over two weekends, Oct. 4-5 and Oct. 11-12. Musicians
scheduled to perform are BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet, Rockin’
Dopsie, Buckwheat Zydeco, C.J. Chenier and Bruce Daigrepont, among
Dancing is de rigueur, so wear comfortable shoes, and prepare to
sample Cajun favorites such as jambalaya, crawfish pie, fried
alligator and couchon du lait, the Cajun version of a hog roast.
Artists and musicians usually hang around after their sets, so
chatting with the locals and nabbing autographs is a given.
Favorite sites among locals in Audubon Park are many. The sea
lion pool in the historic Popp Gardens, where lively shows are
offered daily beneath the ancient live oaks, resonates with
memories from the early days of the park.
Equally nostalgic among locals is a mound of earth that has
brought infinite pleasure to the children of New Orleans. Monkey
Hill rises only about 100 feet but it might as well be a mountain
to the flatlanders of Louisiana. The Works Progress Administration
created the hill in the 1930s in an effort to give the city’s
children a chance to view land above sea level. Today, the hill
also features a five-level, 20-foot-high treehouse and a canopy of
cypresses nearby for weary parents to rest while their children
roll down the embankment.
Zoo admission is $10, which includes all exhibits except for the
carousel and train rides. Admission is $5 for children ages 2 to 12
and $6 for seniors ages 65 and up. Zoo memberships vary in price,
but allow free admittance at any time.
Audubon Zoo hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to
6 p.m. weekends.
The zoo is located about a half a mile from the streetcar line
on St. Charles Avenue.
866-ITS-AZOO (866-487-2066) or 504-581-4629;