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St Louis Zoo

Address Forest Park, St. Louis, MO
How to Find it: From US-40/I-64 – Take Hampton Avenue/Museums/Zoo exit. From I-44 – Exit Hampton Avenue. Follow Hampton north one mile to the Zoo. From I-270 – Take I-170 south to U.S. 40/I-64 east to Zoo/Museum
Open: Open every day but Christmas and New Years Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Summer Tuesdays open until dusk
Prices: Free admission
Area: 90 acres
No of Species No of Animals Star Rating
Mammals 110 515 Conservation
Birds 206 979 Enclosures
Reptiles 198 690 Education
Amphibians 32 255 Recreation
Fish 34 337 Research
Total 580 2776
Click here for a Link to the Zoo’s own Web Pages
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This critique last updated:  Feb 2008

Official Description

Heres a description of the Saint Louis Zoo, and that is the way we write our name: SAINT LOUIS ZOO

One of the few free zoos in the U.S., the Saint Louis Zoo is one of the most visited, with about 3,000,000 visitors each year.  The Zoo is home to more than 6,600 animals, from invertebrates to mammals.  These 705 species represent the major continents and biomes of the world.

Since its inception in 1916, the Saint Louis Zoo has been a leader in innovative, barless naturalistic exhibits.  As wildlife and wild places have become increasingly threatened, the Zoo has become a center for conservation, education and research.

In 1995 Zoo began an ambitious building program.  A new Children's Zoo, popular with all ages, offers close-up animal encounters, an aviary where colorful little parrots eat out of your hand, and a see-through slide through a pool of playful otters.  River's Edge is a new 10-acre exhibit where visitors immerse themselves in animal habitats and follow a winding waterway to a variety of animals from Africa, South America and Asia and the rich river heritage of St. Louis.  Monsanto Insectarium is a dramatic, intriguing view of the vast world of invertebrates, including a walk-through geodesic dome of butterflies.

Other popular attractions include Big Cat Country, Jungle of the Apes and The Living World, a high tech interpretive center which combines about 150 species of live animals with videos, computers and interactive games which illustrate the world's diversity of life and the need to protect it

Visitor Reviews

This review posted by Sassfam: Sept 2000

The Saint Louis Zoo continues to be rated one of the top zoos in the country –
most recently as #2 in the July 2000 Family Fun magazine.

Not only is it free, visitors will find the commercialization surprisingly well-controlled, allowing patrons to focus on the well-maintained, generously-sized habitats and bucolic surroundings.  Occasional food and beverage carts dot the paths; otherwise, the visitor center houses a discreet gift shop which can be easily avoided for those with tight budgets – it's on the lower level  away from both the parking entrance and main doors out to the zoo.

The only areas with admission are the Insectarium ($4), some theater shows, the Children's Zoo ($1.50 – but rumored to be getting a corporate sponsor to be free), the train rides ($1.50 for 8 stops, which will easily take visitors all the way around the park) and parking ranges from free (on the Forest Park grounds within easy walking distance) to $7.00 during peak season for adjacent enclosed lots. It's also easy access right off the expressway (Highway 40/Interstate 64), with easy on/off.

The park is shaded, well-laid-out, easy to get around by Zoo train ($1.50 for up to 8 stops), foot or trams (for disabled or impaired guests). The Children's Zoo is a treat, with lots of interactive activities and play spaces, and the new Insectarium is a must-see ($4).

The St. Louis Zoo has done an excellent job of not getting caught in the scorekeeping game of number of species or specimens at the expense of the overall experience or well-being of the animals.  Exhibit areas are generously-sized, easy to view without being invasive, few if any (I'd say none, but don't want to stick my neck out) of the awful legacy cages that completely enclose animals or – worse yet – have bars, and staff is helpful but not too obtrusive. The elephant area has been completely redone in 1999, and Raja (now around 8 yrs old) is a popular attraction along with his mom, Pearl.

The aviary is from the 1904 World's Fair, with elevated deck paths throughout. Visitors shouldn't be surprised to find birds in their hair or on their arms, or more outgoing flying friends looking for food handouts available from the feed dispensers. Newest addition is the Insectarium which opened in the summer of 2000.

The Zoo is in the heart of Forest Park, a spacious cultural centerpiece in St. Louis that includes the St. Louis Art Museum, the Planetarium, the MUNY outdoor theater, the Jewel Box performance venue (also near-turn-of-the-century), the world-class St. Louis Science Center (with IMAX), boat docks (romance with a catered box lunch on a rented rowboat, gondola or paddleboat), skating rinks and more. By packing a picnic lunch to eat lakeside at the zoo in the company of the ducks, the St. Louis Zoo is a cheap and fun family outing. It's open 363 days a year, closed only on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Visitor Review 2

This review posted by Changar 31 July 2000

The St. Louis Zoo is spectacular! There is lots of green space, about 7000 animals (including Raja, the new baby elephant) and it cost is right…FREE. It is mostly very modern and also has a great walkthrough birdhouse dating from the 1904 Worlds Fair.  Very cool. Also, the area around the zoo, Forest Park, is safe, and offers the Municipal Opera, The Boathouse to rent gondolas and small boats, and lots of trees, golf course, and state-of-the-art Science Center. Enjoy


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