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Step Challenge

By: Brenda, Director of Education and Volunteers, Audubon Zoo


There’s an interesting phenomena going on around the zoo right now.  People are walking, not regular guest people-staff people.  Staff people that usually bum a ride on a golf cart or make someone drive out and pick up their lunch for them.  (I would even reckon that many of these employees have never seen our fantastic Louisiana Swamp exhibit because it is at the back of our zoo and  “ too far “ to walk.) One hundred zoo employees are now taking part in the Audubon Zoo Step Challenge or as I have renamed it “Legs for Larry”.  This was the brainchild of our Managing Director of Audubon Zoo, Larry Rivarde.  Larry is a fitness guru and is frustrated at the rising costs of healthcare for our facilities along with the rotund physique and general unhealthy condition of a lot of his employees.

We all know that walking has numerous health benefits. Walkers have less incidence of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other killer diseases.  People who walk regularly live longer and are generally much happier.  I know all those things, yet my pedometer had been put in a drawer and I find lots of excuses not to walk my dogs or bike to work or walk to the Dinosaur Exhibit to check on our site.  This is where the Step Challenge works while all that great info in my head does not.  Larry put incentives out there and Larry made it a “challenge”.  I am highly competitive and so are many others around here.  If you challenge me then it is “game on”.  Last week 100 little green pedometers were distributed and teams of five were created, for the next four weeks 20 teams of Audubon Zoo employees will be competing to get the most steps.

I am in it to win it.  275 steps to make the morning coffee.  716 steps to walk a volunteer to the Education Animal Building.  971 steps to get produce at the commissary and feed the invertebrates.  280 steps to go to the bathroom, but I know I can go to some restrooms further away!   1678 steps to the Dino Adventure.  4456 steps to the Louisiana Swamp Café for chicken strips.  This is fun.  The whole country needs a Step Challenge!

Come visit us at the zoo.  Check the staff for a green pedometer and then ask them for directions.  I bet they will walk you there.  Join our challenge. This is a beautiful place to walk, so is Audubon Park and Riverview and Woldenberg Riverfront Park.   Heck the whole city is a beautiful place to walk!

 I gotta go now and see how many steps it takes to walk around Audubon Park.   A competitor has just walked in to work from her home –four miles!   I need to step it up.

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