Saint Louis Zoo

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Saint Louis Zoological Park

Saint Louis Zoo logo

South entrance
Date opened1904
LocationForest Park
St. Louis, Missouri
Coordinates38°38′08″N 90°17′26″W / 38.6355°N 90.2905°W / 38.6355; -90.2905Coordinates: 38°38′08″N 90°17′26″W / 38.6355°N 90.2905°W / 38.6355; -90.2905
Land area90 acres (36 ha)[1]
Number of animals19,000 [1]
Number of species655 [1]
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Saint Louis Zoological Park

Saint Louis Zoo logo

South entrance
Date opened1904
LocationForest Park
St. Louis, Missouri
Coordinates38°38′08″N 90°17′26″W / 38.6355°N 90.2905°W / 38.6355; -90.2905Coordinates: 38°38′08″N 90°17′26″W / 38.6355°N 90.2905°W / 38.6355; -90.2905
Land area90 acres (36 ha)[1]
Number of animals19,000 [1]
Number of species655 [1]

The Saint Louis Zoological Park, commonly known as the St. Louis Zoo, 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 based on a public subsidy from a cultural tax district, the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD); fees are charged for some special attractions. A special feature is the Zooline Railroad, a small passenger train that encircles the zoo, stopping at the more popular attractions.

The city purchased its first exhibit, the Flight Cage, from the Smithsonian Institution following the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. After the zoo was established, new exhibits, areas and buildings were added through the decades to improve care of the animals, the range of animals and habitats shown, as well as education and interpretation.



The early years

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. This was the first piece of what would become the St. Louis Zoo.

By 1910, increased interest in a zoo 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 diverse opinions as to the appropriate 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. The head of the Parks Department, Dwight Davis, voiced his opinion against Forest Park—that is, until the city set aside 77 acres (310,000 m2) 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 of board members was increased to nine in 1916, the same year the citizens voted to create a tax 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.

1920 through 1969

Expansion of the zoo started in 1921 when the Bear Pits were built. The zoo continued to expand with construction of the Primate House in 1923 and the Reptile House in 1927.[3]

The new Bird House was built in 1930.[3] With the coming of the Great Depression, revenues were down and construction of new exhibits slowed at the zoo.[3] In 1935, the Antelope House was built with the help of the Civil Works Administration (CWA), a program of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.[3] This burst of construction ended in 1939 with the addition of the Ape House.[3] In 1939 the zoo acquired two giant pandas.[3] Their names where Happy and Pao Pei. Happy died in 1945 and Pao Pei in 1954.

The Stupp Memorial Pheasantry and the lion arena, now the Sea Lion Arena, were built in 1954.[3] Three years later, the Elephant House and its arena and moated yards were constructed.[3]

Major construction started on the zoo again in 1961 when the Aquatic House was built.[3] It continued with the opening of the Zooline Railroad in 1963, and the Charles H. Yalem Children’s Zoo and animal nursery in 1969.[3]

1970 through 2010

In 1972 the Zoo joined the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District and began to receive revenue from a public sales tax of 8 cents for every $100 assessed. This enabled continued improvements and upgrades of exhibit areas. Two major areas of the zoo, Big Cat Country and Jungle of the Apes, were constructed in 1976 and 1986, respectively.[3]

In 1989, the Living World, a two-story building including classrooms, a reference library and teacher resource center, an auditorium, two exhibit halls emphasizing evolution and ecology, a large gift shop, a restaurant, and offices was built.[3]

In 1993, the zoo received a donation of the 355 acres (1.44 km2) Sears Lehmann farm, located west of St. Louis. It is to be used for the breeding of endangered species and for educational purposes.[3]

In 1998, new areas were added with the Emerson Children’s Zoo. Phase I of River’s Edge, which opened in 1999, represented Asia: featuring Asian elephants, cheetahs, dwarf mongoose, and hyenas.[3]

In 2000 the Monsanto Insectarium, including the Butterfly House, was built.[3] The North America (Missouri and Mississippi rivers) portion of River’s Edge opened in 2001. In 2002 the third phase, featuring habitats of South America and Africa, opened with hippos, rhinos, warthogs, carmine bee-eaters, capybaras and giant anteaters.

In 2003 the Penguin and Puffin Coast opened with both outdoor and indoor exhibits. Also new that year was the Mary Ann Lee Conservation Carousel, featuring one-of-a-kind hand-carved wooden animals representing endangered species at the St. Louis Zoo. The Donn and Marilyn Lipton Fragile Forest opened in 2005. The newest addition of Caribbean Cove, which features sting rays, opened in 2009.[3]

Zoo directors

Internationally prominent animal experts have served as directors of the zoo:

Park Zones

Hermann Fountain

Lakeside Crossing

River's Edge exhibits

Discovery Corner exhibits

Children's zoo
Children's Zoo

The St. Louis Children's Zoo has many fun and educational features, such as the see-through slide through the otter pool and many birds, snakes, frogs, and other animals that volunteers and staff bring out for the kids to see up close.[4] This is one of the only exhibits at the Zoo that requires an admittance fee; however admission is free for the first hour the zoo is open during the summer.

Monsanto Insectarium and butterfly garden

Most of the Zoo's Invertebrates are found in this indoor facility. Represented species include Giant Centipede, Leafcutter Ant, Flower Mantis, Vietnamese walking stick, Atlas Beetle, American Burying Beetle, Sunburst Diving Beetle, Water Scorpion, Brown Widow Spider, Brown Recluse Spider, Cobalt blue tarantula, Texas brown tarantula, and Egyptian Fattail scorpion.

Education department

The education department includes exhibit halls, guest services, a movie theater, a café, and a gift shop.

The Wild exhibits

Historic Hill exhibits

1904 Flight Cage (Aviary)
Spectacled caymans at the Herpetarium

The Bird House, Herpetarium, and Primate House all feature outdoor enclosures that are connected to the main buildings.

Red Rocks exhibits

Somali Wild Ass
St. Louis Zoo, 2005


  1. ^ a b c "About the Saint Louis Zoo". St. Louis Zoo. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Saint Louis Zoo". Saint Louis Zoo. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b [1]
  5. ^ "1904 World's Fair Flight Cage and Edward K. Love Conservation Foundation Cypress Swamp". Saint Louis Zoo. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 

External links