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Audubon Nature Institute is a 501(c)3 not for profit that operates a family of ten museums and parks dedicated to nature. We serve our visitors, our community and our world as an educational resource, an environmental guardian, a leader in economic development and a venue for family entertainment. The success of the Audubon family lies within the individual strengths of its facilities. Working together, they are helping to create a bright future for generations to come.
Audubon Nature Institute's purpose of Celebrating the Wonders of Nature is woven into our vision of creating a family of museums and parks dedicated to nature. This vision is fulfilled by eight objectives that support our mission:
The museums and parks Audubon Nature Institute operates on behalf of Audubon Commission include:
L. Ronald Forman, President and Chief Executive Officer
A past president of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Ron Forman began his tenure with Audubon Park and Zoological Garden in 1972 as City Hall liaison. Made Deputy Director in 1973 and Executive Director in 1977, the major transformation of Audubon Zoo from an "urban ghetto" to an "urban Eden" was underway.
Today, Ron Forman oversees a family of attractions and facilities that make up the dynamic Audubon Nature Institute, leading a staff of 600 people in the Audubon mission of conservation and education.
Forman serves locally on the New Orleans Business Council, is Chairman of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District and the Immediate Past Chairman of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau. A past member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Museums, he is also on the Advisory Committee of Chimp Haven.
Audubon Nature Institute Senior Staff
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science and recreation. As part of AZA's mandatory accreditation process, AZA members like Audubon Nature Institute meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, veterinary care, wildlife conservation, scientific research, education, expert staffing and safety.
AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums—such as Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas—are leaders in the protection of endangered species. Twenty years ago, AZA established the Species Survival Plan Program™ (SSP), which is a long-term plan involving conservation breeding, habitat preservation, public education, field conservation, and supportive research to ensure survival for many of the planet's threatened and endangered species. Currently, AZA members are involved in 116 SSPs working on behalf of 172 species.
Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things.
In December 2015 Audubon Zoo received the AZA Quarter Century Award recognizing the Zoo’s 25 years of continuous accreditation. The award states “Audubon Zoo’s dedication to best modern zoological practices and philosophies is a hallmark of AZA accreditation, and we applaud your continuous commitment to uphold AZA standards and policies.”
Audubon Nature Institute is committed to transparency. As a successful example of the public/private partnership model, Audubon values its role as a steward of the public trust. A fiscally responsible 501(c)3 non-profit, Audubon Nature Institute is an enduring and ethical community partner which effectively manages its collection of attractions and facilities on behalf of Audubon Commission.
Audubon Nature Institute Board and Commission Manuals
Audubon Nature Institute's rating from Charity Navigator
View Audubon Nature Institute's Annual Reports online.
Magic, wonder, connection—Audubon Nature Institute attractions inspire these feelings. Connection to nature; a sense of wonder at the incredible world around us; the magic of the continuing circle of life—each visit to an Audubon attraction is filled with all this.
Audubon's guests have grown to expect the sense of wonder that comes with the discovery of new and exciting features. These capital projects are important for a number of reasons. New features throughout Audubon Nature Institute generate visitation, which in turn generates revenue to keep Audubon at the leading edge of conservation, education and quality family attractions. New projects implement the latest in enrichment and technology, incorporating newest and best practices in management for Audubon's cherished collection of animals, many of which are critical to breeding programs to stem the tide of extinction. These projects also fuel the economy of our region, providing jobs and economic impact.
Capital Projects in Construction:
Capital Projects Being Planned for the Future:
Audubon Nature Institute has its roots in historic Audubon Park, a natural setting for family recreation since the 1800s, and Audubon Zoological Gardens, which evolved from a single flight cage built in 1916 to a 58-acre jewel ranking among the nation’s best zoos. Along the way, Audubon grew into a respected steward for economic leadership, conservation and environmental education.
Strong public and private support drove the Zoo’s phoenix-like rise in the 1970s when it replaced cramped cages with lush natural habitat, evolving from an “animal ghetto” to an “urban oasis.” The success of the Zoo provided impetus for future Audubon projects, inspiring enduring community support and commitment.
Audubon Nature Institute created Woldenberg Riverfront Park in 1989, giving the city its first direct access to the downtown Mississippi riverfront and providing a beautiful setting for Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (1990), where visitors explore fascinating aquatic environs ranging from the Great Maya Reef to the Amazon Rainforest. Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, a 1,200-acre sanctuary where threatened animals live and breed undisturbed, debuted in 1993. Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, an 86-acre preserve within the New Orleans city limits, joined the family in 1994. Entergy IMAX® Theatre (now Entergy Giant Screen Theater) opened in 1995 at the Aquarium, utilizing the most advanced motion picture technology available. In 1996, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species opened to develop assisted reproduction techniques to breed disappearing species. Also that year, Audubon Wilderness Park began operating as an educational “field” resource for life science study by school, camp, and scout groups. In 2008, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium became the first major attraction to open in post-Katrina New Orleans, signaling that recovery was underway.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 proved Audubon was capable of nimble response to yet another disaster. Working closely with state and federal agencies, Audubon created a kind of sea turtle triage facility at the Audubon Aquatic Center on the Survival Center campus, setting protocol and focusing expertise and resources on caring for several hundred turtles injured in the spill.
In 2012, Audubon entered into an historic partnership with San Diego Zoo Global to create a new program for breeding disappearing Zoo animals on the site of the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center. Other new programming at the Survival Center included Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.), dedicated to the conservation of U.S. fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2013, implementation began after years of careful planning and a fair amount of red tape to rebuild Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, which was destroyed as a result of Hurricane Katrina.
Audubon Nature Institute is committed to “Celebrating the Wonders of Nature” every day in this city where celebrations are woven into the basic fabric of life. Each member of the Audubon family is unique, but essential to the overall character of the collection. Our success is measured in such tangibles as visitor attendance, the births of disappearing wildlife, the substantial economic impact on our community, and the smiles on the faces of the children who visit us all year long.