ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Saint Louis Zoo The Countries Best

Updated on July 15, 2013

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

Built for the 1904 Worlds Fair
Built for the 1904 Worlds Fair

World Class

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.

Bear Pits

click on picture to see full size
click on picture to see full size
Grizzly Bear
Grizzly Bear
Pic from the Primate House  Click on images to see full sized.
Pic from the Primate House Click on images to see full sized.

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.

In the butterfly house
In the butterfly house

Rivers Edge

A sign set in a casting of a Hippo Skull
A sign set in a casting of a Hippo Skull


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.

Bush Dogs taking a snooze
Bush Dogs taking a snooze

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.

A hippo at the Rivers Edge
A hippo at the Rivers Edge

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. 

My otter family
My otter family

Red Rocks

 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
  • Cheetah
  • Haguar
  • Puma
  • 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. 

3 of the 5 new baby tigers born at the Zoo
3 of the 5 new baby tigers born at the Zoo

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.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      What an awesome hub!

      I think we as animal lovers would of course prefer they were in the wild, but as long as you have places like this zoo it has to come a good second. I think the thing to watch out for to pick out the good zoos - and not just what you see out front - is how the animals are. Relaxed or pacing up and down. Going with the beautiful photographs you have these animals look very happy indeed. Great hub.

    • Sunnyglitter profile image

      Sunnyglitter 7 years ago from Cyberspace

      I live in St. Louis, and we do have an awesome zoo. I go several times a year.

    • John B Badd profile image

      John B Badd 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      the St Louis Zoo is very cool. I recommend it to anyone who has not been there. It has been a few years for me now I know i need to return this summer.

    • profile image

      Lake Ozark Vacation Rentals 8 years ago

      The St. Louis Zoo is great. The best part is feeding the giraffes. It is a great experience. And to go inside the barn where they live is cool too. When visiting the zoo you must find out all the animal feeding times or you may find them asleep when you get around to them!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I wish we have a zoo here in Cebu. It would really be super nice if the kids get to see and visit the animals and learn more about them. I wish..I wish..I wish.... :)

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      BP- are you anywhere near Australia Zoo? That would be so cool to see. Steve Irwin rocked.

    • blondepoet profile image

      blondepoet 8 years ago from australia

      Super cool hub PM I love animals and it is about time I think I go visit a zoo, I love them.

    • mwaky profile image

      mwaky 8 years ago

      love the hub especially the bear thing and black rhino thing its reall cool! good job!

    • Life Force World profile image

      Life Force World 8 years ago from Missouri

      I live in St. Louis, and went to the zoo many years ago. I will have to revisit it soon. How easily we forget what is in our own back yard. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Why thank you. And here is to your success and all that entails.

      (Paper Moon raises his glass in a toast)

    • my-success-guru profile image

      my-success-guru 8 years ago from Upstate NY

      Hey papermoon! Great Hub on The Zoo!

      To Your Health Wealth and Happiness!

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      It is very enjoyable. I bet you have beautiful nature parks where you live. Thanks for giving it a read, I am gland you liked it.

    • Melody Lagrimas profile image

      Melody Lagrimas 8 years ago from Philippines

      Very enjoyable. Would love to visit this zoo with my family one day.

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Bill- the cards better do something! Thx for checking it out.

      Cris- Thanks for stopping by. Can't wait to read your new hub. :)

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines


      I just finished some BBC docus on the wild and the ice age. And this would be the hub right up my alley as of the moment. You can say I'm feeling a little animalistic! LOL Anyway, nice tour of the zoo and cool to see your otter family! Thanks for sharing, I thoroughly enjoyed this :D

    • profile image

      William Zuback 8 years ago

      Looked like a fun day and a beautiful zoo. Milwaukee is supposed to have a nice zoo. That's what everyone says? I guess when you grow up with it you take it for granted. I can't speak for the St. Louis Zoo but I think Milwaukee may have St. Louis beat for being the most underated. And I thinks it's about time that the Cards go into a very long slump and give the Brewers some breathing room.

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Katherine- Wow! Stary Safari sounds cool. Sometimes they have night events here with wine and music.

      wordscribe- With a family totaling 6, free atractions are the bomb, and we have tons of them here.

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 8 years ago

      I"m originally from St. Louis. Oh, how I miss so many free attractions. We barely go to the zoo here because it's about $50 for all 5 of our family members to go. You're right, this zoo is amazing. I also miss the free Science Center. I am too sad about Cinder. Off to cry.

    • profile image

      Katherine 8 years ago


      Next time we are in St. Louis, we may hav to stop at the Zoo. Yesterday we went ot the Stary Safari (Night at the Arizona Zoo) with water park area for the kids. It is far to hot to go out during the day, but Garin loved it at night.


    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Candy- at $16.50 a pop, I would only go once in a paper moon. Zoosnobs, you betch'a :)

      Janetta- Shotguns and MoonShine, what a combo. I had to look down the barrel of about 18 shotguns in S. Ill for being nothing more than a longhaired pinko commie treehuggin hippy. Their Shine jugs were almost empty at that point. :O

    • profile image

      Janetta 8 years ago

      Paper--you should hear it around here on the fourth of July, New year's eve and well, just about any holiday--who needs fireworks when you've got shotguns?? lol

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      I'm a penguin kinda-girl, but I gotta say our Woodland Park Zoo totally rocks! Tho it's not free.. You STL people are such Zoosnobs!!! Sheesh!

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Caffeineinsomnia- thank you for checking out my hub and leaving a wonderful comment

      Tom- glad you enjoyed.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 8 years ago from United States

      Excellent article and great pictorials. It was great to learn about this great zoo.

    • CaffeineInsomnia profile image

      CaffeineInsomnia 8 years ago from Planet ERF

      Yeah St. Louis Zoo is fantastic - I've been to the Memphis Zoo, Chicago zoo, and the St. Louis zoo and still like STL zoo the best!

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Tony- Cinder was such a wonderful chimp. She would interact with the public more than the others. She will be missed.

      Connie-Ted Drews? A Saint Louis institution! Ted's is a frozen custard stand left over from Rt. 66. On a hot saturday night it seems like half of St. Louis turns out to go there. You can see lots of local celebrities braving the crowd for a tasty concrete. First you see the arch (you can do that driving through, ok, there it is, good enough) then you go to Teds. Number two on the list. The locals dont care about the arch as much as Teds. Just got some last night.

      If you go to Seatle, you see the space needle and either a coffee house or the fish market. San Antonio, it is the Alamo and the River walk. Denver it is the Rocky Mountains and .... Well the mountains. St. Louis it is Ted Drews. Hands down. :D

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Who is Ted Drews???? LOL Yes, I was in St. Louis last Oct and have plans to go back at some point, not sure when. BTW, I wasn't "signed in" when I posted here.

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 8 years ago from san diego calif

      Sorry to hear about Cinder

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Janetta So, Illinois is absolutely beautiful. Mind you the gunshots on Saturday Night in the forest have scared the Bawoozles out of me. LOL. I have done quite a bit of camping in Shawnee forest. A few Rainbow family gatherings there as well.

    • profile image

      Janetta 8 years ago

      @Frieda and Christoph--close-about hour and 45 mins south. So. Illinois

      Venture to StL quite a bit

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Janetta- It is soooo refreshing in the summer (as well as the fountain at the children’s zoo, and the water fall at the end of Rivers Edge- See above pic  LOL.  The girls wouldn't get in it until I did!

      Connie- Where did your pic go?   LOL.  If you do come (back?) to St. Louis, it is a must.  Along with a visit to Ted Drews……

      Tony- The San Diego Zoo Rocks.  Too bad you have to pay to go in it.  Ahahahaha ( he laughes rudely ) :D

      The Columbus Zoo and the zoo in Philly are also great Zoos. 

      Frieda- Janetta is from Southern Ill, they use St. Louis too.  And that is my BIG PET PEEVE!  WHO EVER TOOK ALL THOSE BEAUTIFUL PLANTS AND BIRDS OUT OF THE AVIARY AND REPLACED IT WITH A MISSOURI RIVER LAND SHOULD BE HUNG BY THE TOES UNTILL DEAD!  All you have to do is drive 20 min from the zoo and you can see all the Missouri river lands your heart desires.  Hmph.

      Tatjana- It is a beautiful place.

      Christoph- Now you’re talkin!  Yeah Baby. 

      VioletSun- I love that otter fam.   :)

      G-ma  On the day that I took the giraffe pic, they (the giraffes) were actually eating leaves out of the kids hands.  I got a lot of pics of them just before and after the leaf was snatched, but the el cheapo digital cam took forever to process the pic and sometimes took 2 to 3 seconds after you hit the button to capture a pic.  I did not get too frustrated though, the experience was cooler than the need to capture it.  And thank you for your warm comment.  They are always appreciated. 

      Froggy- I had issues with the idea of zoos in the past.  Especially when I have gone to zoos where 500lb animals have a 8 by 10 cage.  The Saint Louis Zoo works hard at sustainability of animals in the wild, as well as a great breading program for endangered species.  It is such a beautiful zoo.  We live about 5 minutes away so it is a great place to go just for a walk.  The gardens and paths alone are worth the trip.  Hmm, perhaps you could sell flip flops at a zoo gift shop stand! 

      And I would love to work at a zoo. I would be content even if I just had to clean out the cages. :)

      Alekhouse- Have you ever been to the Knoxville Zoo?  And I think Saint Louis is close enough for a day trip.  If you do come to St Louis, Just give an email, we would love to hook you up with things to do and see. :)

      Ethel- If Zoos aren’t your bag, stay tuned for my hub on the Botanical Gardens.    Thanks for giving it a look and your comment.  Very supportive considering you don’t like Zoos.  :D

      Kiran8- Thank you so much for checking it out.

      Ashley- that was about the time I was dating my wife.  We went there a lot.  Then we moved away and had kids, and came back and had more kids.  The Zoo has changed drastically since then.  It used to be great, now it is phenomenal.  This year they added Stingrays and a real restaurant with frozen margaritas.  I don’t generally like to get toasted at the zoo ( I could see myself becoming marinated Tiger food) , but it seems so much more mature.  They have also added Rivers Edge and a huge outdoor chimp area and the Penguin Puffin Coast since then.  Grants farm is great.  ( I smell another hub in the future on yet another great FREE Saint Louis attraction)

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 8 years ago

      I did STL zoo 14 years ago when my daughter was young. She loved it! We also hit up Grants Farm to see the animals there.

    • kiran8 profile image

      kiran8 8 years ago from Mangalore, India

      Lovely pics and a great hub, thanks a lot :)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Looks a great place although Zoos make me feel uncomfortable sometimes.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Great hub. Beautiful pictures. I agree that maybe the San Diego Zoo could vie for first place. But this one looks pretty nice. I love the pic of the kids! So sad about Cinder.

    • frogdropping profile image

      Andria 8 years ago

      Paper - I love zoos. I know they're not ideal for the animals but they exist and I for one have no shame in saying I enjoy them. We have a great one here, utterly fab and I go from time to time, despite knowing the layout and what's there ... My favourite is and always will be the giraffe section. I adore giraffes and love to stand by their enclosure and literally watch them pottering about. My idea of a great job is either working in a zoo or making flip flops :) And thanks for this and the photos.

      And RIP Cinder :(

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      awww poor Cinder...Your movie was wonderful and that Lion looked like he was talking to you...and Giraffe's have the most beautiful eyes, don't they?  The carousel reminded me of the fun as a child I had and the Black apes and the elephant going into the did a great job...and the baby tigers in the water was so thing I don't remember ever seeing live is a Penquin....Loved every bit of this thanks...:O) Hugs

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      This was really fun to look at, and the children are adorable especially as the "otter family". 

      Just gave you a thumbs up as Frieda reminded us in her hub! ;)

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

      Our Zoo rocks!  This is excellent.  Makes a St. Louisan proud! And Janetta, I had no idea you were from this neck of the woods.

      @trooper:  Whatchoo talkin' bout?

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 8 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Usually I do not like ZOO´s but this one looks very nice, especially after I had seen bush dogs sleeping in the bush...and butterflies...

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 8 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      I think San Diego is in the top 10, isn't it?  Janetta, you live in St. Louis too?  Well, I for one love it.  But I do wish they never changed the birds in the birdhouse.  It is stinky in the penguin puffin house, but so so so so fresh. I remember hearing about Cinder's death. How very very sad. I'm going to miss her. She used to throw the mirror at the others sometimes.

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 8 years ago from san diego calif

      If I ever get to St Louis I may have to check It out . But we gotta pretty good zoo In my neck of the woods San Diego !

    • profile image

      Connie Smith 8 years ago

      Wow, this zoo sounds fantastic. When I get back to St. Louis, I will be sure to go.

    • profile image

      Janetta 8 years ago

      i love the new penguin thing! smells kinda nasty but feels great in the summer!

    • Paper Moon profile image

      Paper Moon 8 years ago from In the clouds

      Certainly the countries best.

    • trooper22 profile image

      trooper22 8 years ago from Chicago

      Very good yes, I'll grant you that. The world's best, well...I'll have to part company with you there. Great hub!