Jungle Gardens was created by Edward Avery “Ned” McIlhenny. Born on Avery Island in 1872, Ned was an arctic explorer, naturalist and conservationist.
As a young man, he studied the plants and animals in the Avery Island area. Around 1895, he founded a private bird sanctuary known as Bird City to protect endangered snowy egrets. The son of Tabasco sauce inventor E. McIlhenny, Ned assumed the presidency of McIlhenny Company in 1898 and ran the world-famous pepper sauce operation until his death fifty-one years later. However, he never lost his love of nature and dedication to conservation. He built a home on the island and continued his conservation efforts even as he raised a family and guided Tabasco Sauce to ever-greater success.
In the 1920s, Ned found time to convert his private Avery Island estate into Jungle Gardens - decorating it with exotic botanical specimens from around the world. He gradually expanded the Gardens until it reached its present size of more than 170 acres. After many years spent transforming the landscape, Ned opened Jungle Gardens to the public in 1935. Since then it has remained a favorite south Louisiana tourist destination, wildlife refuge and botanical marvel.