Since I've mentioned Jungle Gardens on Avery Island I think I need to share some information about it.
In the 1890's, Mr E.A. McIlhenny aka"Ned" founded a bird colony later named "Bird City". The way he did that was at one time there were hunters killing thousands of egrets to make women's feather hats. Mr. Ned caught 8 baby egrets and raised them in captivity on the island. In the fall, he released them to migrate across the Gulf of Mexico. In the spring they came back along with other flying species. The migration continues to this day.
Mr. Ned loved rare plants and flowers beautifying the island even more. Through the years he has planted hundreds of varieties of flowers such as junipers, azaleas and camellias under live oak trees.
Today the Jungle Gardens is an 170 acre botanical garden and Bird City. It is a tourist attraction and you can see it all on a 5 mile drive.
Two of Ned's friends surprised Ned in the 1930's by sending him a Buddha by rail. Ned built a long forest pond, an arched bridge and enclosed glass temple for this sacred statue. Around the temple, he created "seven hills of knowledge" covering them with azaleas, camellias, sansaqua and bamboos. Buddha is the centerpiece of the Jungle Gardens.
Admiring the beauty of the gardens you can see raccoons, alligators and deer.
In elementary school, visiting the Jungle Gardens was a yearly field trip. We had picnics on the grounds and played in a specified area. As young children, we did not appreciate the beauty we had around us. When I was older I went back and the beauty was breathtaking.
It's about 10 miles from the nearest city which is New Iberia.
I forgot to mention that to get on Avery Island you have to pay $1 per car. It is used to assist in coastal restoration and conservation projects. When we lived on the island we had a sticker on our cars so when we passed the toll booth, the operator would just let us in. We always waved. For the life of me I can't remember all the operators except for Mr. Walter. I'm sure someone will help me out. I remember another man. I can see his face but can't recall his name.
Anyway, the Jungle Gardens are opened 7 days a week and inexpensive.
As I sit here I think how awesome it was that I lived on the island and a tourist attraction at that. How many people can say that?!