Wild Baton Rouge

The ways we celebrate, tolerate and get up close
with wildlife around the Capital City

Step outside your home at night in these early summer days, and you just might feel like you’re deep in a tropical jungle. The air is wet, bugs are fluttering about. There’s a constant chime of cicadas and a rhythm of croaking frogs. Something scurries by in the trees above you, shaking the dew off the leaves.

The muggy, warm days bring out the critters we may love or hate, but their presence is a constant reminder of the lushness of south Louisiana. Wildlife thrives here in a way it might not in other urban areas. Just head over to BREC’s Bluebonnet Swamp to see for yourself—it’s surrounded on all sides by office parks, townhomes and residential subdivisions. Yet once you step onto the boardwalks above the swampy waters, it feels like you’re far away from the bustle of the city.

For our cover story this month, we wanted to dive deep into the wild places of Baton Rouge. From the creature encounters you might have in your own backyard—think snakes, opossums and even foxes—to the exotic animal attractions around us that draw families and visitors, we got up close to it all.

Because despite the plethora of local wildlife you can spot just by taking a walk around the block or in a local park, there are now more places than ever locally to get hands on with animals you might have only seen before on the Discovery Channel.

In the next pages, we take you to visit the kangaroos, otters and wild cats at Barn Hill Preserve near Ethel, as well as the sharks, stingrays and seahorses of the new Blue Zoo inside the Mall of Louisiana.

We even browse through the many curios and animal specimens stored in the LSU Museum of Natural Science, and get tips on photographing wildlife from one of Louisiana’s most renowned outdoor photographers.

Turn the page for more. It’s our hope these stories help you take a second to observe and appreciate all that nature has to offer around us here in Baton Rouge.

And we want to hear your stories, too! Tell us about your craziest or most fascinating animal encounters around town by sending us an email at [email protected].

Close encounters

Meeting the exotic animals at the ever-expanding Barn Hill Preserve


A day in the life of a zookeeper

We followed along for a day of feeding, cleaning habitats, checking the vitals—and more feeding and cleaning—at Baton Rouge Zoo

Biodiversity library

Stories from the LSU Museum of Natural Science, home to a world-renowned collection of animal specimens

Swamp people

For those who listen closely, the Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center is a chance to become one with nature

Under control

Animal Control officers come face to face with some of the most interesting animals to roam the parish

What to do if you see a wild animal in your yard

Photo courtesy of C.C. Lockwood

Wildlife captured

Tips on photographing the area’s wildlife from Baton Rouge’s most acclaimed wildlife photographer

Monitoring Mike

How the LSU Vet School keeps watch over the university’s iconic live mascot

Water world

The Blue Zoo brings sea life, snakes, birds and more to a familiar Baton Rouge hangout

This article was originally published in the June 2021 issue of 225 magazine.