As part of a visit to New Orleans, be sure to allow a leisurely
morning or afternoon to visit a new attraction: the Louisiana Swamp
Exhibit at the Audubon Zoological Garden.
The reconstituted swamp occupies the site of an 18th-century sugar
plantation on the Mississippi. Wooden walkways lead past cypress,
willows, and red swamp maples to re-created Indian and Cajun villages.
You’ll see some 50 species of swamp animals, including alligators,
cougars, raccoons, nutrias, otters, a variety of birds, and–through a
window in the habitat house–snakes and Louisiana’s quintessential
crustacean, the crayfish.
In the trapperhs cabin, you can see displays of native and Cajun
artifacts, and shop for such gifts as decoys, cornhusk dolls, and file
(sassafras flavoring for gumbo). At Cypress Knee Cafe, you can eat
jambalaya, smoked pork sausage and rice, or seafood, while listening to
recorded Cajun music.
Elsewhere in Audubon Zoo, more than 1,000 animals are on view,
including many endangered species. (Zoo staff are especially proud of
Zuri, the white tiger.)
The zoo is open year-round from 9:30 to 4:30 weekdays, to 5
Saturdays, to 6 Sundays. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children
If you’re staying downtown or in the French Quarter, consider
a boat cruise up the Mississippi to the zoo. The Cotton Blossom departs
on 45-minute cruises from the foot of Canal Street at 10, 12:45, and
3:30 daily. Round-trip fare with zoo admission is $9.50 adults, $5.75
children. For reservations, call (504) 586-8777.
Another option is to ride the historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar
(one-way fare is 60 cents), then transfer to the Broadway bus for the
short ride to the zoo, at 6500 Magazine Street.