Audubon Zoo goes batty with its latest expansion

(WVUE) - Starting Friday, visitors to the Audubon Zoo can step into the closest thing to a bat cave in New Orleans.

A $3.23 million expansion of the Jaguar Jungle features the "Criaturas de la Noche," or the Creatures of the Night Bat House.

Here, they might witness a vampire bat that seems to guard its territory and a vial of bovine blood.

"This is their diet," said Dominique Fleitas, Jaguar Jungle Assistant Curator. "They don't get fruits or veggies or anything else, just blood."

Behind another glass enclosure, more than 200 Seba's short-tailed bats munch on more appetizing fare when they're not breezing through a 42-foot long transparent flyway.

The nocturnal house also features ringtail cats, red-eyed tree frogs, giant cave roaches, Antony's poison arrow frogs, Costa Rican zebra tarantulas and other creatures.

"I think it's really tying in the culture of the area that the animals are coming from" Fleitas said.

The exhibit aims to immerse visitors in the Mayan culture and Mayan contributions to art and agriculture.

The house is themed to be a large base site for biologists and archaeologists conducting research nearby. It aims to highlight the cultural and biological diversity of the jungles of South America.

Outside, the new additions include alpaca, a short of shaggy llama from South America that was domesticated about 6,000-7,000 years ago.

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