New Orleans features the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. You may or may not know, but I am a big ole marine life nerd. So I wanted to make sure that we hit up this AZA accredited (I can explain why that’s important if you like and why I won’t go to places that aren’t) aquarium while we were there.
The aquarium is pretty decently sized and broken up into a few parts, although a lot of going up and down stairs is required – there are a decent number of elevators – to get around. You start with the great Maya Reef. From there, you go upstairs to the Amazon Rainforest area. There is a fairly sizable anaconda, so be warned or excited. You go from there to a rather nice penguin exhibit. There was a young penguin just in their final stages of losing their fluff while we were there.
Next is the shark and ray touch pool. They do multiple feedings and a lot of talks while people can touch. I would say that timing is key. We had issues at first between crowds and general shyness. We came back about half an hour before watching a feeding, and of course, the animals were much more active. They had someone talking almost the entire time, and pretty detailed and cool. They also explained how they target train the animals in this pool to keep track of their feeding, which was interesting.
Right in the same area, they had a lot of aquariums with seahorses. Our aquarium in New Mexico has a few, but in NOLA, they had a lot, and many of them seemed pregnant. There are also some eels and other fish in that area. The Sea Otters were a bit of a letdown. They were changing up some stuff, we dealt with a little construction throughout, so we sadly didn’t get to see much.
Mississippi River was next. They had a gator with leucism (white with black dots) and a decent view of the actual river.
Then back downstairs to the jellyfish and Gulf of Mexico. The jellyfish were rather soothing and cool to watch, especially the various varieties. The Gulf aquarium was cool. They had a large sea turtle. I will say, as a shark nut, a bit light on sharks. One Sand Tiger and two Brown Sharks, but it was still cool.
All in all, it was a decent time and aquarium. I thought some sections were low on things, Mississippi and, again, the lack of sharks. However, it was still really impressive and really cool. I like the way it was all set up and the flow of it. I will say there was kind of a lack of signage. Case in point I only figured out what was up with the white gator because my friend is a fan of reptiles. I understand with the changing nature of aquariums, it can be hard, but a few signs on a few more of the exhibits that will likely be there for a while would have been nice.
Still, the price was good, I had a lot of fun, and it is one of the better aquariums I have been to. I liked some aspects of it more than New Mexico and some less. If we go back, I want to try to see what changes they were making and hit up the zoo, though.
Decided to just include this. In short, the AZA functions to determine the difference between private and for-profit zoos and aquariums versus ones like this. Breeding, research, and education are meant to be the top priority. It is not perfect, but there are decent rules, and it’s a great way to determine the minimum of which should be supported or not. You will notice if you visit their site that places that do things like, say, make their animals perform tricks for food won’t be listed.