A catamaran called the Audubon Express now connects the new Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans with the city's Audubon Zoo.

The Audubon Express makes five trips daily in each direction along the Mississippi between a dock outside the front doors of the Aquarium, at the foot of Canal Street in the French Quarter, and the Riverview Boat Landing at the zoo about seven miles uptown.A variety of packages is available. Admission to both the aquarium and the zoo and round trip on the boat is $25.50 ($13.25 for children). Zoo admission alone and the boat trip is $18 ($9.25), and the aquarium and boat excursion is $19 ($10.25).

Without the boat trip, admission to the zoo is $6.50 and to the aquarium, $7.50 . First and last boat departures each day are at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. from the aquarium and 10:45 and 5 from the zoo. Both zoo and aquarium are open seven days a week.

The aquarium, dedicated to the preservatipon of marine life through educational programs, opened Sept. 1.

On the 16-acre site, stretching along the Mississippi from Canal Street, are exhibits on the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Reef, the Amazon Rain Forest and the Mississippi River. Its tanks contain a million gallons of water, housing some 4,000 specimens.

Officials say the aquarium is accessible to handicapped visitors.

The Audubon Express is operated by the New Orleans Steamship Company (800-233-2628 or 504-586-8777). A one-way ride takes about 20 minutes.

Information on the zoo and aquarium is available from the Audubon Institute (504-861-2537).