July 13, 2020
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas will reopen to the public on Thursday, July 16, 2020 after a four-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the closure, Audubon Nature Institute staff continued to care for its more than 15,000 animals while consulting with experts across the country to develop a comprehensive reopening plan that will ensure the health and safety of its visitors, staff, volunteers, and animals.
Working in partnership with City and State officials, Audubon has considered all aspects of the guest experience and made some essential modifications to ensure a safe visit. Online reservations will be required for all guests, including Audubon Members, to limit the number of guests inside the Aquarium and support physical distancing.
“Along with setting strict attendance limits, additional safety initiatives include stringent cleaning protocols, physical distancing signage, and requiring staff wear appropriate PPE,” said Audubon Executive Vice President and COO Kyle Burks. “In accordance with City health guidelines, masks will also be required for all guests visiting our indoor facilities, such as the Aquarium. Although the City is not requiring face coverings for outdoor recreation if social distancing is maintained, we strongly encourage guests to wear a mask while visiting Audubon Zoo as well.”
Audubon typically welcomes 750,000 visitors over the summer months and is estimating nearly an 80% decrease this year due to limited capacity, pausing groups and field trips, and decreased tourism visitation. Audubon’s estimated loss of revenue directly related to its facility closures from March to June was approximately $21M.
Although the Aquarium is reopening, Audubon has made the difficult decision to cancel its fee-based summer camps, private event rentals at all facilities through August as well as Scales & Ales, it’s annual fall Aquarium fundraiser.
“During this challenging time for our community, Children’s Hospital is proud to partner with Audubon to reopen the Aquarium,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital New Orleans John R. Nickens IV. “As long standing partners with aligned missions to serve the New Orleans community, Children’s Hospital is thankful to be working together to bring New Orleans families an enjoyable way to create new memories. This is an exciting step forward in our city’s reopening, and a wonderful way for families to spend time together.”
Audubon is one of a handful of the nation’s top nonprofit zoos and aquariums that are ineligible to benefit from any of the forgiveable COVID-19 relief packages because of their pre-COVID number of employees and annual revenue.
“We are an organization built on hope and our ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds,” said Audubon President and CEO Ron Forman. “Over the years, the Audubon has made historic comebacks, resurrecting a neglected Zoo to a world-class facility and rebuilding from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Our response to this challenge will be no exception. Together, we will get through this and come out the other side stronger than ever.”
The public can support Audubon by advocating to include zoos and aquariums in future economic relief legislation, contributing to the Audubon Recovery Fund, and visiting the Zoo and Aquarium.