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The Jungle Gardens of Avery Island, Louisiana

Since Brian is a fan and great consumer of Tabasco Sauce, we were always aware of the Tabasco company and its location on Avery Island, Louisiana. But we never knew about the Jungle Gardens of Avery Island until we purchased our self-guided tour tickets and found that admission to the gardens was included.


Edward Avery McIlhenny, better known as Ned, was the son of Tabasco sauce inventor E. McIlhenny and was born on the island in 1872. He was an arctic explorer, naturalist and conservationist - a man ahead of his time, don't you think? Ned studied the plants and animals in the area of Avery Island, and in doing so, he learned of the endangered snowy egrets. These birds were being hunted to extinction for their plumage, so Ned proceeded to build a private bird sanctuary on the property in 1895.


Ned captured and raised eight (8) wild egrets in the aviary known at Bird City. These egrets raised their offspring in the aviary, and when they were ready to migrate, Ned freed them. What an amazing thing it must have been to see these egrets return to the rookery the next spring! And that is how Ned helped save the snowy egret from extinction as the birds returned each spring, to this day, by the thousands to Bird City.


Assuming control of the McIlhenny Company in 1898, Ned and his wife, Mary Matthews, raised a family, built a home on the island, Mayward Hill. With all these responsibilities, Ned still found time to continue his conservation efforts.


Ned converted his private estate on Avery Island into the Jungle Gardens in the 1920's. He collected botanical specimens from around the globe, slowly growing the gardens to 170 acres, its present size. In 1935, he opened the gardens to the general public.


The Jungle Gardens offers a self-guided tour, with the use of the TravelStorysGPS app, which is included in the cost of the ticket for the Tabasco company self-guided tour, and there are also guided history and botanical tours which require a reservation in advance. These gardens were such a bonus to our visit to the Tabasco company! We could not get over the amount of and size of the Southern Live Oaks, especially the 300 year old Cleveland Oak.


When visiting Avery Island, please don't omit taking the self-guided driving/walking tour through the Jungle Gardens. Our visit was during the end of winter, and we can only imagine what it must be like when the gardens are in full bloom in the spring! Guess we will need to make a return visit to see for ourselves!



Links:

- Jungle Gardens - www.junglegardens.org

- Tabasco Company - www.tabasco.com/visit-avery-island

- TravelStorysGPS - www.travelstorys.com


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