A trip to the Audubon Park Zoo (New Orleans)

Whenever I go to New Orleans (usually three times a year), I try to visit the Audubon Park Zoo. The zoo is located near the Mississippi River in Audubon Park (above; Tulane University is in the background). In fact, a riverboat runs to and from the zoo from the French Quarter -- an amusing trip. Because the park is located on high ground near the river, it was little affected by Katrina. The picture above was taken in May, 2006, eight months after the storm, and most of the photos in this section were taken in 2006.

Audubon Park Zoo is not a particularly large zoo, yet most of the exhibits give the animals plenty of space in naturalistic, if not quite natural, environments (flamingos, kudu). Look carefully, and you can see the fence behind the flamingos and the TALL fence behind the kudu; but they are not obtrusive. At the same time, this zoo is perhaps the most "photographer-friendly" that I have visited. With a moderate telephoto lens (all of the snapshots in this section were taken using a Nikon 180 mm f/2.8 EDIF AF lens), one can almost always get close enough to fill the frame with an animal, and often closer (hornbill, giraffe, peacock). However, it seems that a few animals, such as the jaguar, are so ferocious that both bars and glass are deemed necessary!

The pachyderms are particularly fine. The Indian elephants can be very amusing; here's one of them showing why elephants are valuable in the logging industry. The zoo also has a nice family of white rhinos, but, since the baby is grown up now, I'm not sure whether this rhino is mama, papa, or junior.

The Audobon Zoo has a "thing" for white animals. Where else can you see both the dreaded white alligators and such magnificent white tigers? There are those who believe that such animals are "worthless" and that it is "unethical" to breed them because (a) some are hybrids of various subspecies, (b) there is a higher rate of birth defects because of inbreeding to maintain the recessive whiteness genes, and (c) such animals would be at a significant disadvantage in the wild. I wonder what those same individuals think about dachshunds (and many other dog breeds), for which essentially the same complaints are true?

It is hot in New Orleans, though not so hot as the tropics, but perhaps because of this, one often finds unexpected animals taking to the water (anteater, black bear 1, black bear 2). Bear in mind that, in the USA, home invasions by black bears are so common that the bathtub is a naturalistic setting for these creatures! Of course, most of the animals are just happy to rest after a tough day of posing for the tourists (sun bear (?), gorilla).