NEW ORLEANS – During this time of year, Audubon Nature Institute is usually welcoming visitors from all over the world to its attractions. This year, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mardi Gras is looking a little different, and Audubon is focused on partnering with the local community to keep the spirit of the season alive.
“Audubon is committed to engaging others to serve their needs and tackle challenges together,” said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. “Our hope is to inspire others to make a difference in their community by infusing the joyful culture of Louisiana.”
On Monday, February 8, volunteers from the Krewe of Themis put the finishing touches on their “house float” decorations adorning the front of Audubon Zoo. The theme of the decorations is “Be Kind to Every Kind” and beautifully hand-crafted flowers embellish the front entrance columns of the Zoo. “Lady Justice,” which represents Krewe’s namesake—Themis, the Titan goddess of divine law and order— can also be found on the front plaza welcoming guests. Many of the handmade decorations were crafted from recyclable and sustainable materials.
“Our Krewe was beyond excited to decorate the front of the Zoo and help share the Mardi Gras spirit,” said Krewe of Themis President Judge Kimya M. Holmes. “We have loved coming together as a Krewe this year to spread a little happiness throughout the area.”
Krewe members’ time and effort as well as all decorating materials were generously donated by the Krewe. Guest are invited to drive by the Zoo to take pictures with the spectacularly decorated Zoo front entrance.
Audubon has also partnered with the Krewe of House Floats to use Audubon Zoo as a collection center for their Meals for Musicians Food Drive. A collection box for non-perishable foods is located at the front entrance of the Zoo, where guests are welcome to drop off non-perishable foods throughout Carnival season to help feed musicians.
In addition to the food drive, Audubon, the Krewe of House Floats, and Zatarain’s Smoked Sausage have partnered to host a free community meal pick-up day in Audubon Zoo’s parking lot. They will provide a free jambalaya meal kit to the first 500 cars that drive through the socially-distanced distribution event hosted at the Zoo on Friday, February 12, 7-9 a.m. The meal kit will include a package of Zatarain’s Smoked Sausage and two boxes of Zatarain’s jambalaya mix, plus other goodies.
Audubon is working with the Krewe of Red Beans as well, selling Krewe of Red Beans glitter medallions and hoodies in the Zoo’s Audubon Marketplace gift shop and online as part of their “hire a Mardi Gras artist” initiative. The Krewe of Red Beans is partnering with local artists to design unique Mardi Gras 2021 commemorative art, which is applied to a line of products that are being sold exclusively on Magazine Street and providing employment for local musicians.
Forman added, “Our community means everything to us, and we want to give back to show our thanks for the support we have received throughout this past year.”