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New Elephant Exhibit and Lazy River Coming to Zoo

2013-06-14

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 14, 2013

Contact: Frank Donze 
Office 504-212-5335
Cell 504-232-7461
fdonze@auduboninstitute.org

 
Audubon Zoo Elephants Packing Their Trunks for New Home
State-of-the-Art Elephant Barn, Splash Park Expansion Coming Soon

(New Orleans, La.) - For nearly 75 years, elephants at Audubon Zoo have been greeting visitors from virtually the same spot.  This summer, the Zoo’s two female Asian elephants, Panya and Jean, will move out of their 1930s-era Asian Domain enclosure that faces the Cooper Plaza fountain.

The new design measures 42,000 square feet or about one acre and closely resembles the Works Progress Administration (WPA)-style architecture of the existing barn that debuted to much fanfare in the late 1930s in what was then known as the Merz Memorial Zoo.

The new enclosure will be contoured, with gentle inclines, shade trees, two elephant pools and an "enrichment tree,"  a replica of a fallen tree trunk which will allow the elephants to forage for food, including fruit and pumpkins.

Notably, the new building, which features heated, padded floors, is designed to house four elephants. Audubon Zoo officials plan to acquire at least one more elephant sometime in the future to join Panya, who is 49 years old, and Jean, who is 40. Both elephants have been at Audubon for 30-plus years. Jean arrived in 1978 and Panya came to Audubon in 1980.

Relocating the elephant exhibit is part of a larger redesign of the Asian Domain that is taking place at the same time as another project: the addition of a “lazy river‘’ water attraction to the popular Cool Zoo splash park, now in its third season. The construction work, which began earlier this year, will continue into 2014.

MORE ABOUT NEW EXHIBITS COMING TO AUDUBON ZOO

LAZY RIVER
The official name of the attraction is “Gator Run.’’ It will take approximately seven minutes to make a round trip in the exhibit, which measures about 750 linear feet in length. Gator Run will be three feet deep and 12 feet wide. It will have two sand beaches and three water cannons that can spray people as they float on the water.

The Lazy River will give Cool Zoo customers the added option to float atop inner tubes past animal exhibits. Cool Zoo is about 14,000 square feet. The second phase will add 44,000 square feet of space for a total of nearly 60,000.

NEW ORANGUTAN EXHIBIT
The existing elephant barn structure will be renovated to house the Zoo's orangutan collection. The exhibit will get a new moat, a new roof, new play structures and will be retrofitted with night houses for orangutans. Moving the orangutan exhibit from the World of Primates to the Asian Domain is designed to enhance the geographic approach to the Audubon Zoo animal collection. Orangutans are an Asian species.

Other exhibit moves at Audubon Zoo include:

  • A renovated leopard exhibit that recently opened next to the existing elephant exhibit.
  • A relocation of the popular contact yard/petting zoo in the Discovery Walk that has been home to goats, sheep, pigs and other small animals to a new enclosure near Monkey Hill adjacent to the giraffe exhibit. Petting zoo animals are on exhibit in a temporary home in the Asian Domain across from the Babirusa exhibit. The new petting zoo is slated to open later this summer.

All construction projects are scheduled to be completed by spring of 2014.

Mailing address: Audubon Nature Institute 6500 Magazine St. New Orleans, LA 70118
800-774-7394
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