Beat the crowds and see something different. These animals don’t get the attention they deserve, say curators at the zoo and the insectarium.
Why are they overlooked? Because zoo visitors often expect to see the action they see in wildlife documentaries, which are filmed over a long period of time and edited down. Time and patience are required when watching orangutans; they are not performers. However, they share 97 percent of the same DNA as humans, are very smart and therefore are just as fascinated watching you as you them.
What makes them so special? They are the largest tree-dwelling mammals on the planet.
Where can you see them? Audubon Zoo/The World of Primates.
GIANT MALAYSIAN KATYDIDS
Why are they overlooked? Because they are superbly camouflaged.
What makes them special? They are the largest species of katydid in the world (their bodies are about 3 ½ inches long, but their wing span and long legs can extend their length to about 8 inches). And they are incredibly loud when they rub their wings together.
Where can you see them? Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.
GIANT MONKEY FROG:
Why are they overlooked? Amphibians as a group are underappreciated by the general public.
What makes them special? They secrete a waxy coating to protect themselves from drying out. Researchers are using the secretions for potential treatment of Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders. And amphibians are the “canary in the coal mine” that signal larger trouble in the ecoystem.
Where can you see them? Audubon Zoo/The Reptile Encounter
MILKWEED LEAF BEETLES
Why are they overlooked? When we hear “milkweed,” we tend to think “monarch butterflies.” But leaf beetles are part of a small community of bugs that can also eat it.
What makes them special? They look like overgrown ladybugs and have a cute gait. Once you spot them, you can find them in your own garden.
Where can you see them? Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium/Insects of New Orleans
Why are they overlooked? Fishermen hold this primitive fish in disdain because of their alleged poor eating quality.
What makes them special? Choupique are abundant in the Mississippi River drainage basin.
They have more common names than almost any other Louisiana animal: bowfish, grinnell, swamp lawyer, cypress trout.
Where can you see them? Audubon Zoo/The Louisiana Swamp Exhibit
Information provided by the Audubon Nature Institute’s Zack Lemann, Nick Hanna, Dominique Fleitas and Courtney Eparvier.