Saint Louis Zoo The Countries Best
Saint Louis, Missouri is one of the greatest cities in North America. It is also probably the most underrated cities in the country. Saint Louis has many cultural attractions, and most of them are FREE!
Be sure to click on the pictures to see them full sized.
1904 Smithsonian Institutes Aviary
The World Class St. Louis Zoo is the best Zoo in the country. And yes, it is free. The Zoo is over 90 acres located in the heart of Forrest Park.
It began with the Smithsonian Institution’s Aviary, the large walk through bird house built for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 World’s Fair). Ten days after the fair closed, St. Louis bought the Aviary for the large sum of $3500.
History of the Zoo
By 1910, the Zoological Society of St. Louis was formed. In 1915, city funds were used to complete the first animal house. This became the lion house. The Elephant house was built in 1917. The following year The Chain of Lakes and Seal Basin were completed.
1921 The first Bear pit was built, using open enclosures that resembled the bears natural habitat. This was one of the first animal exhibits not to use bars in a cage to contain the animals. There was a large moat to separate the animals from the viewing public. The bears dens were molded from limestone bluffs along the Mississippi River. To make the enclosures even more like the bears natural habitat, waterfalls and pools were added.
Throughout the 1920’s, work was done on the Primate house, (monkeys) the Herpetarium, (reptiles) and the bird house.
The Bird House
Saint Louis Trains
The Zoo continued to grow. In the 1960’s The Zooline Railroad was added. You can ride the train today. The Zooline Railroad goes roundtrip around the entire 90 acre zoo, with stops along the way so that you can get off to enjoy many of the attractions.
In 1962 Marlin Perkins (of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom) returned as the Director of the zoo.
Today the Saint Louis Zoo is home to over 5000 animals from over 700 species.
One of the modern additions include the Insectarium complete with the butterfly house. You can just go in and browse or sign up for classes. The Insectarium is a building for invertebrates.
You can view displays on creepy crawlies from the Missouri Tarantula to Peruvian Fire Sticks. There are over 100 species of live bugs on display with facts and opportunity to learn more about all of them.
Watch leaf cutter ants blaze a trail to a plant , cut the leaves and carry them back to their lair. Learn how they recycle waste, pollinate plants and their part in the food chain and the cycle of life.
It is also the home of the Butterfly House. A geodesic dome filled with tropical flowers, trees and rock outcroppings, and of course, tons of butterflies. A magial sight to behold watching hundreds of beautiful bright butterflies flitter around you in a tropical garden.
Take a walk down a steamy jungle path across four continents. Immerse yourself in the wildlife, plants and the River as you walk through the Zoo’s Rivers Edge. The dense exotic foliage and a cascading river falls start your journey into the dark country, where you will encounter animals in their habitats in a 10 acre exhibit. The animals you will encounter have large natural areas to roam. The paths wind in such a way that you can still get a good view of the animals in their large abodes.
South America- You can see bush dogs sleeping in the bush, get close to a giant capybara and the magnificently tailed long nosed Giant Anteater.
Travel through the African Nile and watch as Hippos float in fish filled water or graze at the “Rivers Edge”. Hear the Laughing Hyenas do their thing. See a large family of mongoose frolic in the tall grass.
See the rare Black Rhino kicking up dust in the African Savanna. Also see the herd of Elephants grazing about. Finally at the end of the river you can see a Missouri wetland and the Missouri River aquarium. Upon exiting the Rivers Edge, you can brave the waterfall and cool yourself off.
Penguin and Puffin Coast
Another one of the modern updates to the St. Louis Zoo is the Penguin and Puffin Coast. Outside you will find temperate penguins. Inside the 45 degree penguin house, you can freeze while you watch these arctic gentleman dive off the cliffs and swim in their Tuxedos. Dont stand too close to the thick glass partition for their swimming hole or you might get splashed by one.
The Childrens Zoo
Ever seen a mole rat? Ever seen one naked? You can see this and more at the Children’s Zoo. The Children’s Zoo is located in the Saint Louis Zoo. The Zoo might be free, but admission to the Children’s Zoo will cost $4 per person. Tykes 2 and under are free. (Admission to the Children’s Zoo is free before 9 AM)
Once inside the Children’s Zoo, you can pet and brush the Billy Goats. But beware; they might try to eat your shirt! Follow the path around and if you are small enough, you can slide through the Otter pool in an acrylic see through chute, so that you can see the otters frisking about in the water.
Don’t forget to stop by the Otter Family Cut out for a Photo Op.
There is also a geyser like fountain for Children of all ages to stomp about in during summer months.
The indoor area of the Children’s Zoo has Guinea Pigs for petting, a Meerkat family, foxes, a tree kangaroo and a tree frog habitat that kids can crawl under to see them from below.
They also have great live animal shows with lots of audience participation.
At the top of historic hill, you will find Red Rocks, home to the animals of the plains and savanna. The beautiful long necked Giraffe next to the Zebras and Antelope, Camels and the Wild Somali Ass are also just a few of the graceful animals you will find.
Big Cat Country
Let your inner beast roar in Big Cat Country. Big Cat country is a natural outdoor setting for all of your favorite big cats.
- African Lions
- Amur Lepard
- Snow Leopard
- And the largest of the Big Cats, the Amur Tiger.
Our Tigers at the Saint Louis Zoo recently had babies; a beautiful litter of 5 adorable little tigers. You can watch them play and pounce their mother from many angles as you circle them in their natural habitat.
All big cats are in danger of extinction and the Saint Louis Zoo has done a fine job with their breeding program and public education. The Saint Louis Zoo has been and still is a world leader in conservation.
A Movie of the Zoo by Paper Moon
The Saint Louis Zoo
The Zoo has many other treats awaiting visitors. Keeper chats, Monkey Houses, Sting Ray Cove, Gardens galore, foods from snack stands to real restaurants where you might order Jerk Chicken and a frozen margarita. You can dine overlooking a large beautiful lake filled with waterfowl and lined with beautiful lush foliage. You can ride on the Conservation Carousel for just a few dollars. Proceeds go to a good cause . There are Gift shops and educational centers not to mention many activities throughout the year. Free music weekends with Jungle Boogie in the summer, wine parties and don’t forget, Boo At the Zoo for your Halloween spirits and trick or treating fun.
On a sad note.
Feb. 17th, 2009, one of Saint Louis Zoo's 11 chimps, Cinder died. She was hairless due to an auto immune problem, that caused her hair to fall out when she was less than a year old. She died suddenly from cardiac arrest. Cinder was a favorite of Zoo goers.
We will miss Cinder.