New Orleans notables, rare photos, homesponsor movies and historic footage help tell a story of a special place in Uptown New Orleans that began as a sugar plantation, later a campground for Confederate and then Union troops, the site of a World’s Fair and ultimately one of America’s top zoos and green spaces.

Among the many fond memories are recollections of zoo elephants named Itema and Miss Sunbeam; plastic elephant-shaped keys that, with one twist, enabled a recording of information about animals from boxes near the cages; Swan Boat rides on the lagoon; and photos atop a stuffed bear by photographer Meyer Tischler, who wore a pith helmet and safari garb.

The hour-long documentary looks at the annual fête, Zoo-To-Do, considered one of America’s top fundraising events for a non-profit organization; and the fascinating story of Rodney Fertel, who ran for Mayor of New Orleans in 1969 with the campaign promise that he would buy gorillas for the zoo.

Mentioned is John Charles Olmsted, who started designing Audubon Park as an urban oasis in the late 19th century. Also shared are childhood memories of climbing and rolling down the “bump” called Monkey Hill, riding the carousel and miniature train, and the hours spent climbing the dormant locomotive.

Taking advantage of the park’s envious location along the banks of the Mississippi River, a thicketed batture has been transformed into an attractive public promenade now known as the Fly.

Among those sharing their stories of Audubon Park are Rick Atkinson, Ann Bruce, Richard Campanella, Luis Colemenares, Caryl Curtis, Brooke H. Duncan II, Kelly Duncan, Jonee’ Daigle Ferrand, Randy Fertel, Ron Forman,  Carolyn Kolb, Ken Kolb, Errol Laborde, Cooper Manning, “Deacon John” Moore, Nell Nolan, Miki Pfeffer, Kitty Duncan Sherrill, Gwen Thompkins, Ace Torre and Errol Williams.

AUDUBON PARK MEMORIES is produced and narrated by Peggy Scott Laborde. Editor is Larry Roussarie. Photographers are Paul Combel and Lenny Delbert; and associate producer is Ashli Richard Morris. Consulting producer is Lenny Delbert.

AUDUBON PARK MEMORIES repeats Saturday, November 23 at 7pm & Thursday, November 28 at 10am, 3pm and 7pm.

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