Engaging with the Audubon Nature Institute as a college student

Baby giraffe Hope was born on Good Friday at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans. (Photo: audubonnatureinstitute.org)

Opened in 1914, the Audubon Nature Institute has spent the last 110 years dedicated to protecting our natural environment, educating its visitors, and entertaining families through their collection of ten museums and parks throughout New Orleans. Due to the large variety of activities, the Audubon Nature Institute attracts visitors of all ages but seems to go unnoticed for a specific age group, college students. Think about it, when was the last time you visited a zoo or an aquarium and learned about the wildlife around you? While it may not be tricky to manage with a busy college schedule, the Audubon Nature Institute’s museums and parks have a lot to offer for college students with different schedules. 


Approximately less than half a mile away from Tulane’s campus is Audubon Park. While many students walk through the park to get to the “fly” on Fridays, the park has a lot more activities and features to offer students. Students can visit to play golf or tennis or to check out the riding stables and playgrounds. All of the features give students an opportunity to stay active and relax during stressful weeks. 


Right next to the Audubon Park is the Audubon Zoo which is home to over 2,000 animals and 18 exhibits. The zoo has various attractions for all age groups such as the Cool Zoo, the Virtual Reality exhibit, and the Zoo’s Art and History exhibit. The zoo also offers behind the scenes looks with their animals in their “Audubon Wild Encounters” program. This program allows visitors to connect with the wildlife and learn about the species and the conservation efforts of the keepers and staff. If hanging out with jaguars or bears isn’t your thing, the zoo also hosts a variety of events. Kicked off on March 30th, the zoo hosts a series of events, such as Endangered Species Day, where visitors can learn from limited-time experiences on the endangered species and how to help them. 


A little further from the campus than the park is the Audubon Aquarium. Opened in 1990, the aquarium is home to over 530 species of animals and 14 exhibits to visit and learn from. Some of their most popular attractions are the Bayou exhibit, Maya Snorkeling Adventure Experience, and the Shark Discovery exhibit. The aquarium is a popular attraction in the New Orleans area and students should attempt to visit at least once during their time at Tulane if they haven’t already 


Considering students may have difficulty traveling the parks and attractions of the Audubon Nature Institute, ANI still offers ways students can interact with the nonprofit virtually. For all the zoo, aquarium, and insectarium, virtual tours are available on their website if students want to see the exhibits from their dorm room. If students would like to learn more about the environment and animal behavior, the Audubon Nature Institute offers a virtual community connection series. On Facebook Live and other social media platforms, students can watch keeper takeovers, take virtual quizzes, and find other virtually interactive videos. Additionally, by engaging with the nonprofit on social media platforms (i.e., Instagram, Twitter, Facebook), the students will receive timely updates on the institute’s parks and wildlife, educational content, and learn about upcoming events that students can engage with. Audubon Nature Institute also allows students to support their mission from home by becoming donors. From home, students can contribute to their annual fund or become monthly donors. Even without donating, students still can support by voting for the Audubon’s aquarium on USA Today’s 10 Best Aquarium.  By utilizing the Audubon Nature Institute’s virtual opportunities, college students can learn more about the importance of nature conservation and support the institute’s mission of protecting wildlife. 


Whether it is virtually or in-person, college students have a variety of opportunities to interact with the Audubon Nature Institute. By interacting more with the natural world around them and ANI, students can assist with maintaining the public green spaces of New Orleans and continuing the species-saving conservation programs.


You must login to post a comment. Need a ViaNolaVie account? Click here to signup.