The Audubon Commission may still not have a plan for notifying the New Orleans neighbors about proposed changes to its green spaces, but the Zoo may have something even more exciting in the meantime: a new Malayan tiger, one of just a few hundred members of its critically endangered species in the world.
Tuesday marked the first public sighting of “Boomi” at Audubon Zoo, an adult tiger that transferred to the Audubon Zoo as part of a species survival program, announced David Niebuhr, managing director of the Audubon Nature Institute. The number of Malayan tigers in the world is thought to be 300, making it critically endangered.
The new Malayan tiger is receiving a slow introduction at Audubon, part of normal zoo protocol, with public appearances “sporadically for brief periods over the next two weeks as he gets acclimated,” said zoo spokesman Frank Donze in an email after the meeting. He will share the same enclosure as King Zulu, Audubon’s well-known white tiger, and they will be visible to the public on alternating schedules, Niebuhr said.
“[King Zulu] is still here,” Niebuhr said during Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of the Audubon Commission. “He just gets more time off now.”
Attentive New Orleans tiger fans might have gotten an advance notice of the tiger’s pending arrival last month, when the Palm Beach Zoo announced to local media in Florida that it would be transferring a then-unnamed member of its Malayan tiger population to New Orleans. Tragedy struck the Palm Beach tiger enclosure in April when a big cat named Hati killed a zookeeper, but officials there said the transfer to Audubon had been initiated back in February and that the tiger being transferred was not Hati.
While the tiger might have been the biggest news out of Tuesday’s meeting of the Audubon Commission, most of the nearly two-hour discussion concerned the ongoing effort to craft a policy on how Audubon will notify the public of new developments on its properties. The commission presented a second draft of the proposal that changed the language about what types of changes to the land will automatically trigger public meetings, but activists like professor Oliver Houck and others said the best solution would be to combine the first draft with the new version.
Commission chair Kelly Duncan said the remarks by Houck and others merit further consideration, so he recommended the commission defer a decision until the staff can further review it and perhaps write another draft. The commission assented unanimously, and Duncan said that the commission may convene a special meeting to hold that discussion.
Tuesday’s meeting also included a request by Wilma Heaton of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East for a resolution that would have assisted with one of its projects, but the commission said they needed more time to study it. Audubon staff also touched on upcoming construction around the park — such as a rebuilding of the road through The Fly from a Goldring Foundation grant and the plan to rebuild the bathrooms at The Fly — and CEO Ron Forman also answered questions from Paulette Perrien about plans for the closed shelter near Magazine Street.
To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.