Zoo in New Orleans

Welcomes Back Visitors

* The animals at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans got something last Friday that they haven't had for several months: visitors.

Over the weekend, thousands of people went to the zoo, which had been closed since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi in August. The zoo didn't flood when Katrina hit, but three animals -- two otters and a raccoon -- died, and more than 2,000 trees were destroyed. It took millions of dollars and months of work to get the zoo ready to reopen.

The zoo's Marsha Fernandez said the animals sensed a difference: "For the last couple of weeks, it's been really, really quiet. I think they actually miss having the visitors."

The reopening of the zoo was an important step toward getting New Orleans back to normal. "A city without kids and families is a city without soul and heart," said Ron Forman, president of Audubon Nature Institute, which runs the zoo. "So we just thought it was critical to get the thing open for Thanksgiving weekend."

Correction: A news item in Wednesday's KidsPost misidentified the name of the town where construction workers found a 19th-century mansion. The mansion was uncovered in Port Deposit, Maryland, not Fort Deposit.

Hey, look, a visitor to Audubon Zoo in New Orleans.