Audobon Zoo Installs Altman Lighting for “Criaturas de la Noche” Exhibit

The Audubon Zoo located in New Orleans, Louisiana offers visitors a fascinating mix of animal encounters from around the world. The zoo is renowned for its unique natural habitats. The zoo recently added an exhibit with a 42-foot, transparent flyway entitled “Criaturas de la Noche” (which translates to Creatures of the Night).  The exhibit is filled with over 200 short-tailed bats. Now open, the “Criaturas de la Noche” Bat House houses vampire bats, ringtail cats, red-eyed tree frogs, giant cave roaches, and even Costa Rican zebra tarantulas. All part of a glimpse into life at night in the jungle.

Altman Lighting used at bat house exhibit in Audobon Zoo of New Orleans.

Altman Lighting used at bat house exhibit in Audobon Zoo of New Orleans.

Needing a nocturnal lighting design that would entice and enliven its inhabitants but not distract them, the design engineers worked with LEA-Inc., which supplied Altman Lighting’s Chalice RGBW recessed and pipe-mounted LED luminaires.

“It was the zoo’s vision that when you walk into the exhibit, it needed to look as natural as possible to make the visitors feel as if they are walking through the Mayan ruins on a dark and creepy night,” Mike Gonzales, LEA-Inc. Controls Specialist said. “Coming into the room from the outside, it takes your eyes a moment to adjust, but once they do, you really get the full effect with all the sights and sounds, and it looks great.”

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Altman Lighting Chalice LED Series Options

Mounting options for the Chalice LED Series from Altman Lighting include recessed, pendant, aircraft cable, wall, and yoke mount. Dimming choices for the Chalice LED Series ranges from Mains Dimming to DMX. Altman also makes the Chalice Series available with a wide variety of LED color or white light options, and many choices of lenses or reflectors.

Gonzales added, “The project was part of a $3 million addition to the zoo called the Jaguar Jungle, designed to showcase animals from South America. We were brought on to the project by the engineers who asked us to create a spooky, nighttime lighting design for the ‘Creatures of the Night’ Bat House, and the Chalice RGBW fixtures were the ideal solution.”

Bat House Simulated Night Time During the Day

As construction of the bat house proceded, the design team began to finalize the lighting placement that would emphasize the design. LEA-Inc. needed an RGBW recessed fixture for the internal areas of the habitat. They chose Chalice 50W RGBW LED fixtures.

Altman Lighting supplies LED fixtures for exhibit at Audobon Zoo in New Orleans.

Altman Lighting supplies LED fixtures for exhibit at Audobon Zoo in New Orleans.

“Inside the actual bat enclosures, we have a total of 13 recessed Chalice 50W LED RGBW fixtures,” Gonzales continued. “We then have 12 pipe-mounted Chalice fixtures for the walkways, and they are all controlled via a DMX lighting control system. It was a design necessity that we have an RGBW recessed fixture for the bat enclosures, and the Altman Chalice LED stood alone as the lighting technology that could meet the specification.”

With the completed installation, the programming of the lighting became a critical part of the exhibit’s success. Understanding that the animal activity within the bat house would be crucial to giving visitors the desired effect, the circadian rhythms of the bats are cued by the programming.

“What was most interesting about the design was that the animals inside the exhibit are on a reversed circadian rhythm,” explained Gonzales. “Since they needed to be active during daytime when the visitors are at the zoo, we created the nighttime looks to trigger their normal nocturnal activities. Once the park closes, the Chalice fixtures then begin their color temperature transition shifts into daytime looks so that the animals can go to sleep, and the process continues on a continuous 24-hour cycle.”