LPB producer Donna LaFleur and videographer Rex Q. Fortenberry hit the road this spring to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look a what goes on at four of the state’s zoos. Stops include BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo, the Alexandria Zoological Park, the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo in Monroe and the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.
Now in its 42nd year, BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo is the home of hundreds of species. Did you know that the zoo participates in Species Survival Plans to help preserve more than 50 endangered or threatened species? This special looks at some of their captive breeding success stories, like the Black Rhino and Golden Lion Tamarins. It also follows Veterinarian Dr. Gordon Pirie and LSU Vet School students as they make their rounds treating the animals at the zoo. There is another stop at the new $2.2-million Realm of the Tiger Exhibit and you will get a chance to see the daily “Running of the Ducks.”
A central Louisiana showpiece, the Alexandria Zoological Park is home to several native species that are threatened or endangered. The Louisiana Black Bear, Red Wolf and Louisiana Pine Snake are on exhibit, along with lesser known wild animals from other countries like the Maned Wolf and the Tayra.
The Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo works with other zoos across the country in managing animal collections. The Monroe zoo has the space, can take animals on short notice, and is willing to take animals that are older, may be imperfect, or need to be held for a limited period of time. As a result, you will see: a Caped Buffalo, unusual for a zoo this size, a white alligator that calls Monroe his winter home; a rare pair of Agile Gibbons that did not fit in at other facilities; and a Hooded Crane with a not-so-perfect beak, whose genes are so valuable that he’ll be moving to the breeding program at the National Zoo soon.
The final stop on the tour is the state’s oldest and largest zoo, the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans. More than 750,000 people visit the zoo each year. Located on a 50-acre site in the city, the zoo houses more than 1,500 animals including many rare and exotic species. We’ll go behind the scenes with the Sea Lion trainer, and learn about the endangered Whooping Crane and efforts to bring it back to southwest Louisiana.
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