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Maned wolf habitat and deck

Rebuild. Replant. Continue Roaring Forward.

It’s a beacon that has shined in our community for nearly a century. Transformed from a small menagerie of cages in the 1920s into thematic trails with waterfalls, giant rocks, and natural landscapes, Alexandria Zoo has bloomed into a wondrous community treasure and a home and haven for both creatures great and small.

This profound transformation did not come easily or quickly. It was forged through the tireless dedication and perseverance of countless individuals. Now more than ever, we are counting on that continued support.

As we continue to clear the mountains of debris from Hurricane Laura, we are uncovering the vast scope of the damage. The cougar, cassowary, and Australian Walkabout habitats will require extensive rebuilds. The lowland anoa, Chinese alligator, iguana, maned wolf, howler monkey, muntjac, giant anteater, Andean bear, red river hog, Australian waterfowl, and cavy/agouti habitats all suffered structural damage.

Many of these habitats have been temporarily fixed to get our animals’ lives back to normal as quickly as possible, but will require permanent repairs. The cougars, Jack and Diane, will be at the Baton Rouge Zoo until their habitat can be rebuilt, and others like the cassowary, howler monkey family, and Chinese alligator have been relocated into other habitats around the zoo. Another devastating casualty of the hurricane’s fierce winds was the loss of countless mature trees, one of the most defining aspects of our lush, shady landscape.

Community has always been at the heart of our mission. Alexandria Zoo is unceasingly dedicated to animal care and conservation and providing fun, engaging educational and recreational opportunities for our citizens. It is that community, despite facing its own challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic and Hurricane Laura, that has rallied together to aid our beloved zoo with this enormous endeavor.

It is with sincere gratitude that we thank both our Central Louisiana community and our zoo community for their assistance during these trying times. Staff from Audubon Zoo, Baton Rouge Zoo, Animal World and Snake Farm Zoo (New Braunfels, TX), San Antonio Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Zoological Disaster Response, Rescue and Recovery (ZDR3), and Petron, L.L.C. have worked tirelessly alongside our team with the clean-up and restoration efforts. The City of Alexandria’s Utility Department helped repair downed powerlines and restore power as quickly as possible and the Recreation Department cleared our parking lot driveway of a large fallen tree. Hemker Park & Zoo (Freeport, MN) donated funds and Atwood’s Bakery, Outlaw’s BBQ, and Alexandria Coca-Cola Bottling Company have provided some of the meals and product to help feed and sustain our workers.

We have also received $7,500 in online donations, plus a $10,000 commitment from Alexandria residents Shaun and Nina Sanghani. “No other single place in Central Louisiana has brought joy and wonderment to more children than the Alexandria Zoo,” said Shaun Sanghani. “The zoo is a cornerstone of our community and an educational retreat for all children, regardless of their race or income. Everybody from all walks of life come together at the zoo and I was one of those kids many years ago and now my kids are among those same children.”

“Between Covid and the hurricane this has been a tough year for families and businesses and it's apparent that our zoo now needs the support of the community it has served for so many years and we wanted to help preserve one of the jewels of our city so it could continue to enrich the lives of our children in Central Louisiana. It doesn't matter how much someone can give but I urge all the local folks who have enjoyed the zoo at one time or another to give whatever they can because as a community, we can make a real difference. We can end this year on a positive note. There are so many compassionate people in this community who took care of one another during Covid and then the hurricane and that says a lot about who we are. I'm proud and happy to be a part of this great community and all these caring folks. I think it's apparent the zoo needs our help and I think it's one of the most important destinations and educational facilities we have for the children of Central Louisiana.”

Alexandria Zoo is accepting tax-deductible donations through our support organization, Friends of the Alexandria Zoo (FOTAZ), a 501(c)3 non-profit. Donations can be made online (www.thealexandriazoo.com) through FOTAZ’s PayPal Giving Fund charity page. Checks can be made out to Friends of the Alexandria Zoo and mailed to 3016 Masonic Drive, Alexandria, LA 71301.

With your help we will rebuild, replant, and continue roaring forward.

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Australian Walkabout boardwalk

Activities Building

Cougar habitat

Cassowary habitat

Train Station

Hurricane Laura

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the photos aren’t enough to illustrate the devastation wrought by Hurricane Laura. Thankfully all of Alexandria Zoo’s living creatures, both animals and our staff, came through the storm safely.

But the zoo’s landscape is another story. For much of the night, the zoo saw little damage. As our storm ride-out crew made rounds overnight, only smaller limbs and one tree had fallen throughout the zoo. However, beginning in the 6 o’clock hour, the wind raged with a vengeance that snapped, twisted, and toppled more than 50 mature trees across our campus.

The damage affected more than 20 animal habitats, countless fences, several roofs, and completely blocked passage of most of the trails. No area of the zoo escaped damage. The worst path of devastation stretched in a line from the playground to the cougar habitat, tumbling trees like dominoes and sparing no habitat in its wake.

Like our other carnivores, the cougars were securely housed in their indoor enclosures. Both cougars, Jack and Diane, stayed safe and secure through the storm, but their outdoor habitat was significantly damaged. Two sides of their habitat’s perimeter were crushed. The brother and sister pair will be spending some time at another zoo until their exhibit can be repaired.

While the task ahead is daunting, our friends at Audubon Zoo, Baton Rouge Zoo and Animal World (Texas) are sending personnel to assist our staff with clean-up and repairs. The Zoo will be temporarily closed until it is safe for us to welcome our guests again. We appreciate the outpouring of support from our community, and look forward to seeing you soon.

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Lee Ann Whitt

Over 30 Years of Wildlife, Community and Heart

At the end of August, Alexandria Zoo will be saying goodbye to Zoo Director Lee Ann Whitt. For her entire adult life, Lee Ann has devoted her time, talents and energy into developing Alexandria Zoo into the treasured community attraction we all know and love.

Lee Ann’s involvement with the Alexandria Zoo began in the summer of 1974, when she married Robert Leslie “Les” Whitt, who only a few months prior began his career at Alexandria Zoo. While raising her family, Lee Ann was a diligent Alexandria Zoo volunteer. She planned education programming and special events, developed Summer Safari camp, and also assisted Les with administrative duties. Her volunteer work with education programing was a key component in Alexandria Zoo attaining its first accreditation in 1986 with the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (now known as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or AZA).

Lee Ann began her career with the City of Alexandria in 1988 as Alexandria Zoo’s stock attendant, which involved purchasing and stocking supplies, running errands, and administrative duties. When the position of Education Curator was added in 1989, she became the Zoo’s first paid education employee.

As Education Curator for 20 years, Lee Ann built the Zoo’s Education Department from the ground up. Lee Ann’s passion for connecting our guests with wildlife and her creative and innovative ideas were instrumental in developing and implementing the countless programs and events that have been enjoyed by our community for over three decades. Her job as curator included handling all of the zoo’s education efforts, public relations, marketing and graphics, special event and facility rental coordination, teen and adult volunteer management, grant writing, and fundraising. She also served as the unofficial assistant zoo director.

Education and conservation have always been close to her heart, as she worked tirelessly to excite and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards. She’s always described the opportunity to work with all of the school children, campers, and volunteers over the years as the highlight of her career.

In 2008, despite being faced with the devastating loss of Les, a terrible hurricane and the worst financial crisis to hit since the Great Depression, Lee Ann stepped in as Zoo Director. She always fought for what was best for the Zoo and our animals, even when it came at great personal cost to herself. While our resilience was greatly challenged, under Lee Ann’s leadership we continued our mission – providing a fun, educational experience for our community and doing our part to protect wildlife and wild places.

In her tenure as Zoo Director, Lee Ann spearheaded numerous improvements of exhibits and facilities. In addition to high profile projects such as the Land of the Jaguar, Festival Plaza, and Animal Health Center, Lee Ann poured her energies into much needed infrastructure repair. While these enhancements don’t get the attention of a new exhibit, they are vital for the continued advancement of the Zoo and maintaining our AZA accreditation. The Zoo has been continuously accredited since 1986. One of her last efforts before retiring has been to update the zoo master plan to help ensure the Zoo’s long-term success.

Lee Ann is such a genuine and compassionate person, and you can see it with her interactions with our guests, volunteers and staff. When she’s out in the Zoo, she always takes time to stop and visit with guests, and has always had an open door to listen to our staff and volunteers. Lee Ann is an exceptional leader that understands her employees’ strengths, values their input, and encourages their growth. It’s been a privilege to work with and learn from her.

For over 30 years, Lee Ann poured her skill, passion and heart into Alexandria Zoo, and has crafted a foundation of success for all of us to build upon. She has left an indelible mark on the Zoo and all of the educational, recreational and cultural experiences we’re able to offer our community and beyond. In 2019, she won the prestigious Dunbar Award, the highest honor classified state employees can receive for their service to the citizens of Louisiana. It’s been an incredible journey, and from all of us – including the furry, feathered and scaly creatures that can’t speak for themselves – we say thank you.

Lee Ann Whitt

Leslie and Lee Ann Whitt

Where There’s a Whitt, There’s a Way

It’s the end of an era, but it’s been a remarkable run. For 46 extraordinary years, Alexandria Zoo has been championed by a Whitt. Together Les and Lee Ann helped build a failing zoo into something so special. A place that our community can be proud of and take joy in visiting. Their legacies will forever remain a part of Alexandria Zoo.

They often wished for more resources, but their creativity, devotion and ability to pull people together not only kept the zoo going but constantly improving. Lee Ann is the first to tell anyone that the zoo’s success is a team effort. Les and Lee Ann had the vision, but it took the combined efforts of staff, volunteers, the City of Alexandria, Friends of the Alexandria Zoo, local businesses and individuals to make it a reality.

Although it feels inconceivable to have the Alexandria Zoo without a Whitt, the question is not ‘who will take Lee Ann’s place’. The question before all of us – the staff, City of Alexandria, FOTAZ, volunteers, our entire community – is ‘how will we carry on their legacy’. Because a zoo is never finished. It is our responsibility to not only maintain the Zoo, but to ensure it continues roaring forward for generations to come. The animals and our community are counting on us to demand nothing less.

Leslie and Lee Ann Whitt

100 Years is Closer Than We Imagined

Did you know Alexandria Zoo was established in 1922? Until this year, we didn’t either! While searching through newspaper archives for a reference to an official opening date in 1926, we discovered newspaper articles referencing City Park Zoo dating back to 1922, plus the person who pushed for its creation.

The Zoo was the brain child of Alexandria resident, Dr. Marvin Cappel, a prominent local physician and the Rapides Parish Coroner. To make the Zoo a reality, Dr. Cappel teamed up with Robert W. Bringhurst, Alexandria’s Commissioner of Street and Parks from 1919 until his passing in 1949. Dr. Cappel would arrange for the animals, and Bringhust and the City would construct the cages and provide for their keep.

The Zoo’s animal collection began with donations of different species by Dr. Cappel and other city residents including wolves, monkeys, deer, alligators, rabbits, raccoons, a bobcat, fox, bald eagle and other birds. Despite its humble appearance, the Zoo was a popular destination for both Alexandria citizens and out-of-town visitors of all ages. By 1929, the Zoo had relocated to its present location next to the golf course.

So get ready. We’re only a few short years from celebrating our "zootennial"!

malayan tiger

Welcome Back

Alexandria Zoo is back open! The Zoo will be open 5 days a week, Wednesdays – Sundays. For the health and safety of our staff, guests, and animals, we've made changes to our daily operations. You can find the list of modifications here.

We want to thank you, our community, for your patience and your support, and we’re looking forward to seeing you back at the Zoo!

male jaguar

Temporary Closure

As a public health precaution and in accordance with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ recommendations, Mayor Jeffrey Hall has temporarily closed Alexandria Zoo to the public beginning Saturday, March 14 until further notice. The health of our staff, guests, animals and community is a top priority for the Alexandria Zoo and the City of Alexandria. We thank you for understanding as we take appropriate action to help reduce the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Our dedicated staff is working onsite, continuing to provide vital care for the animals that call our Zoo home. Stay safe and we hope to welcome you back soon at Alexandria Zoo once this critical situation has subsided.

Updates on Events and Programs

  • Alexandria Zoo’s Zoo Brew and Wine Too presented by Walker Kia scheduled for Saturday, March 28 will be postponed until a later date this year. All tickets purchased to date will be honored on the rescheduled date.
  • Party for the Planet presented by Walker Kia, scheduled for Saturday, April 25, has been cancelled. At this time, we are unable to make any guarantees about rescheduling the event.
  • Registration for Summer Safari and Teen Trek will be postponed until a revised school schedule is available.
  • Current FOTAZ Members will automatically have their membership extended by a month or more depending on the length of the closure.

If there are any changes to be communicated, we will share that information via email, social media and on our website at www.thealexandriazoo.com.

Kumar the white tiger

Remembering Kumar

Beloved. Beautiful. Iconic. These are just a few of the many words used to describe a tiger that has meant so much to so many. In October 2001, a young Kumar first pounced his way into our hearts upon his arrival at Alexandria Zoo. Over these last 19 years, for our staff and many of our guests, it was love at first sight. It wasn’t just his beauty, but his engaging personality and gentle disposition that fueled our fascination.

Kumar spent nearly his entire life at Alexandria Zoo. In 2004, he was joined by fellow white tiger, Hannah, now 17 years old. The pair share four offspring, which are at other zoos. For our staff, it has been a privilege and a joy to care for and interact with Kumar and Hannah. We often develop strong bonds with the animals in our care. They become part of our family. We not only get to celebrate in their milestones, but we also take joy in the ordinary, everyday interactions.

When it’s time to say goodbye, it’s truly devastating. Kumar had been treated for age-related health issues since early 2013. Over three years ago, he was diagnosed with spinal arthritis. Since then he has been aggressively treated with joint supplements, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and multiple pain medications to keep him active, comfortable, and enable him to age with grace. Veterinary staff and keepers closely monitored his condition, including his mobility, appetite, activity levels, and interactions with Hannah.

In recent months, despite modifications and additions to his daily medication protocol, his overall condition deteriorated, most significantly in his last few days. His ability to use his rear legs became untenable. On February 14, 2020, the extraordinarily difficult but necessary decision to humanely euthanize him was made when his condition could no longer be mitigated with treatment. Kumar’s necropsy was consistent with anticipated age-related changes. This included severe spinal arthritis which is presumably the underlying cause of his progressive decline in mobility.

Hannah is adapting well. She has been given extra enrichment and special attention daily from our staff, and has shown no indications of excessive stress or anxiety.

Kumar was an undeniable presence. He will be deeply missed by a generation of zoo-goers, members, volunteers, and our staff. It’s been difficult, if not impossible, to find the right words in recent days. Maybe treasure would be the most authentic description. He was not only treasured by our staff and others that knew him, but he himself was a treasure. Kumar has been a wonderful ambassador not only for the Zoo, but also for the City of Alexandria and the tiger species as a whole.

See them. Love them. Save them. Baba Dioum, a Senegalese forestry engineer, once said, “in the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.” We will keep Kumar’s memory in our hearts. But let us make his most enduring legacy to start conversations about wild tigers and to inspire action to save them.

Kumar the white tiger

Alexandria Zoo mourns loss of beloved tiger

It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Kumar the white tiger. Kumar, who had been in decline due to age-related health issues, was humanely euthanized on February 14, 2020. Animal care staff had been closely managing his end of life care to maintain the 19-year-old cat’s health and comfort. The difficult but necessary decision to humanely euthanize him was made when his condition could no longer be mitigated with treatment.

Kumar has been a zoo favorite of both our staff and guests, bringing smiles to millions since his arrival in October 2001. “Kumar has been such an iconic member of our zoo family,” said Zoo Director Lee Ann Whitt. “His engaging personality and gentle disposition will continue to keep him in our hearts and memories.”

Kumar spent nearly his entire life at Alexandria Zoo. “Kumar has been a wonderful ambassador not only for the Zoo, but also for the City of Alexandria,” said Whitt. In 2004, he was joined by fellow white tiger, Hannah, now 17 years old. The pair share four offspring, which are at other zoos.

"The animals in our care are part of our family," said Whitt. "We celebrate their milestones, worry over them when they’re sick, and mourn them when they pass. Even when it’s expected, the loss is still truly devastating."

"I am deeply saddened by this news," said Alexandria Mayor Jeffrey W. Hall. "White tigers are extremely rare, and Kumar has been an iconic symbol of the Alexandria Zoo for many years. We are very fortunate to have a zoo the caliber of the Alexandria Zoo, which is one of only two AZA-accredited zoos in the state. Their commitment to conservation and protecting endangered species is outstanding."

The public is invited to leave memories and photos of Kumar on the Zoo’s social platforms to honor this special cat.

Mardi Gras Party

Mambo over for the Mardi Gras Party

The animals are askin' for you at Alexandria Zoo! Don your purple, green and gold and parade over to the Zoo for the Mardi Gras Party.

Sink your teeth into a delicious slice of Atwood’s Bakery king cake, enjoy live music by the LaCour Trio, get up close with some of the zoo's animal ambassadors, and visit with costumed characters.

Regular Zoo admission. FOTAZ members are free with card and photo ID. Sponsored by Friends of the Alexandria Zoo, City of Alexandria, Atwood's Bakery, and Walker KIA.

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Alexandria Zoo
3016 Masonic Drive
Alexandria, LA 71301

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