Thanks, in part, to the generosity of New York real estate developer Jeffrey Feil and the Charitable Lead Annuity Trust under the Will of Louis Feil, beloved elephants Panya and Jean’s habitat has an all new look.
A gift of $1 million from the Charitable Lead Annuity Trust made the construction of an elevated education pavilion possible. The Asian-themed interpretive center is a shaded area where educators will host chats with guests and display artifacts.
“Over the years, we’ve been very fortunate with our commercial investments in the New Orleans area and we see this gift as our way of giving back to the community,” Feil said. “Audubon Zoo holds a special place in the hearts of New Orleanians and we are happy to support what is clearly one of the premier family destinations in America.”
Visitors can enjoy activities and games designed to teach guests about Asian culture. Visitors will be greeted by a series of graphics, showcasing the important role elephants have played in Indian culture and history. Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman said, “This extraordinary gift is a testament to the Feil family’s philanthropic spirit and dedication to New Orleans.”
Audubon Zoo’s new elephant enclosure is a sprawling layout with gentle inclines, shade trees, and enrichment devices such as a log that allows the elephants to forage for food. The area also boasts two elephant pools: a four-foot splash pool on one end and a 12-foot-deep immersion pool on the other, close to the Cool Zoo water park. The elephant’s immersion pool is separated from a splash pad in by only a Plexiglass divide, allowing guests to feel like they’re splashing along with the elephants.
The new elephant habitat is part of a major redesign of the Asian Domain area of the Zoo that includes the new orangutan and leopard exhibits.