The Saint Louis Zoological Park is a zoo in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. It is recognized as a leading zoo in animal management, research, conservation, and education. Admission is free, although there are fees for some attractions. One special feature is the Zooline Railroad, a small passenger train that encircles the zoo, stopping at the more popular attractions.
The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair
is credited for the birth of the St. Louis Zoo. The Fair brought the world's attention to St. Louis and Forest Park. The Smithsonian Institution
constructed a walk-through bird cage for the World's Fair. Ten days after the World's Fair closed, the citizens of St. Louis chose to buy the 1904 World's Fair Flight Cage for $3,500, rather than have it dismantled and returned to Washington, D.C. The St. Louis Zoo was born.
By 1910, increased interest in a zoological park brought together some concerned citizens, and they organized the Zoological Society of St. Louis. In 1914 it was incorporated as an independent civic organization of people interested in a zoo.
Meanwhile, the citizens of St. Louis and surrounding municipalities expressed their diverse opinions as to the location of a zoo if there should be one. Fairgrounds Park, Carondolet Park, the Creve Coeur area and Tower Grove Park were some of the places suggested in newspaper articles and letters to the editors and to civic groups. Some concerned citizens residing near Oakland Avenue, south of Forest Park, expressed their displeasure with a zoo in the park because of the smell of the animals. Even the head of the Parks Department, Dwight Davis, voiced his opinion against Forest Park--that is, until the city set aside 77 acres in the park in which to establish a zoological park. A five-man board was appointed to act as the Zoological Board of Control.
The number increased to nine in 1916, the same year the citizens voted to tax themselves for the construction of the Saint Louis Zoo with a 1/5 mill tax. It is said that this was the first zoo in the world which the citizens of a community supported by passing a mill tax.
In 1939 the zoo became the home to two giant pandas. Their names where Happy and Pao Pei. Sadly Happy died in 1945 and Pao Pei in 1954.
The zoo has featured prominent international animal experts as directors:
George P. Vierheller (1922-1962), R. Marlin Perkins (1962-1970), who gained fame for the Zoo as host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, William J. Hoff (1970-1973), Robert T. Briggs (1973-1975), Richard D. Schultz (1975-1982), Charles H. Hoessle (1982-2002), and Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner (2002--present).
- South entrance
- Welcome desk
- Guest services
- Hermann Fountain
- Food services
River's Edge exhibits
- South America: bush dogs, capybaras, and giant anteater.
- African Savanna: Black rhinos, a colony of carmine bee-eaters.
- African Nile: Hippos, Cheetahs, Spotted hyenas, and the little dwarf mongoose.
- Asia: Asian elephants Raja, Donna, Pearl, Sri, Ellie, and little Mahlia and new baby Jade.
- North America: the fish and wildlife of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
Discovery Corner exhibits
The Wild exhibits
- Bear Pits: The first section of the bear pits was completed in 1921. The St. Louis Zoo replaced barred cages with open, moated exhibits. These exhibits, built in the 1920s, represent some of the earliest examples of moated enclosures. Made from molds taken of the limestone bluffs along the Mississippi river locally, they showcase a variety of bear species including grizzly bears and polar bears.
- Conservation Carousel: this carousel features carved animals representing protected and endangered species.
- Fragile Forest: The Donn and Marilyn Lipton Fragile Forest was opened in 2005. It features gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans in a naturalized outdoor setting. Large glass windows allow visitors to look into the habitat furnished with live trees and tall grasses. The Lichtenstein Chimpanzee Refuge features Smoke, Tammy, Holly, Cinder(the bald chimp), Hugo, Jimiyu, Bakhari, and dominant male Hugo. The Dana Brown Orangutan Refuge features the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans, Merah and baby Rubih. The Ann & Paul Lux Family Gorilla Habitat features an all-male group of Western Lowland Gorillas. Wild gorillas may choose to live in all-male societies.
- Penguin and Puffin Coast: displays a variety of water birds. Outside at the Dennis & Judy Jones Humboldt Haven, visitors can get an up-close-and-personal experience with the Humboldt penguins of coastal Peru and Chile. Their exhibit is enclosed by a glass wall that only comes a few feet so you get a good look at these guys. They also have a pool and waterfall to play in. These penguins help debunk the myth that penguins only live in the cold, as they can survive the extremely hot St. Louis summers. Humboldts are also a threatened species and the St. Louis Zoo is involved in research to help protect their natural habitat.
- Once inside, visitors meet the King, Rockhopper and Gentoo penguins as they play in the first-ever walkthrough exhibit of sub-Antarctic penguins in North America. A window-like half wall separates visitors from the swimming birds and allows a particularly close encounter. There are also two tunnels that go underneath visitors feet allowing the birds to swim from one side of the exhibit to the other.
- Further on, is Taylor Family Puffin Bay, which houses the Horned Puffin and Tufted Puffin.
Historic Hill exhibits
- Bird House, where guests and birds are separated by piano wire, featuring birds as varied as burrowing owl, toco toucan, golden pheasant, kookaburra, Mariana fruit-dove, and tawny frogmouth.
- Bird garden
- Herpetarium for reptiles and amphibians, including komodo dragon, alligator snapping turtle, green anaconda, mountain chicken, gila monster, aldabra tortise, tuatara, and over two-dozen species of pit vipers.
- The Chain of Lakes and the Sea Lion Arena.
- 1904 Flight Cage and Cypress Swamp. In 1904, it was the largest bird cage ever built, and it is one of the world's largest free-flight aviaries. The long, wide, and high cage was built for the St. Louis World's Fair. The Flight Cage is one of the few structures that remains from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Local pride in the giant cage motivated St. Louis to finally establish a zoo in 1910.
- Primate House
Red Rocks exhibits