Lions, tigers, and bears… oh my! It doesn’t stop there, though. There are butterflies, sea lions, penguins, snakes, lizards, zebras, and much, much more. MASSIVE doesn’t begin to describe the St. Louis Zoo!
With 89 acres of animal exhibits, plant life, and entertainment, there’s something for everyone- and it’s completely free! We had recently been to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, LA, so comparing the two would be absurd. When we first arrived, I thought, “Oh, we’ll be through this in about four hours.” I was SO wrong!!! After hours of being there, we had only seen about half of the zoo. I would recommend hitting the highlights and then filling in with the other animals and exhibits if time permits.
The penguin exhibit caught a lot of our kids’ attention. St. Louis Zoo contains one of the largest waterfowl collections in North America. The exhibit features four types of penguins: Gentoo, Humboldt, King, and Rockhopper Penguins. Inside, there are interactive games and signs to learn more about each type of penguin.
There is a tunnel the kids could crawl through that runs between the tanks so they can experience the penguins closer. There is a similar layout in the sea lion exhibit.
It’s 1.5 acres of awe-inspiring landscape is inspired by the Pacific Northwest coast. The kids enjoyed watching these creatures swim over them or slide their bellies next to the glass of the tunnel. It was difficult to peel them away.
The Insectarium is a must see! They host more than 100 species of live insects. We all enjoyed seeing the different butterflies and experiencing the landscape that attracts these various creatures. It was amazing to see how each species interacted with the others. There are more than twenty major exhibits with insects. You can learn about how they recycle waste, pollinate plants, and support the entire cycle of life.
If the Safari animals have your eye, there are plenty of opportunities to be educated and observe from a close proximity, yet do so safely. There are rails and platforms for the kids to view each animal and be protected. My favorite was the elephant.
I would highly recommend bring water bottles. It seemed difficult to find a water fountain. There are numerous shops and eating establishments throughout the zoo, so water bottles should be available for purchase if you need them. Also, strollers and wheelchairs are available to rent. Depending on what you need, the price will vary. If you plan to bring your own food, there are picnic tables in the central area of the zoo.
There’s a first aid center close to the penguin exhibit. If you would like to take a behind-the-scenes tours of the zoo, reservations should be made three weeks in advance. For most tours, children should be at least 8 years of age. Payment should be received ten days prior to the tour. If you’re interested in shows, they have feedings, safari tours, and even educational movies.
Some of these shows may require a minimum fee or may run at certain times, so check with staff to see what’s available and if fees are applied. Next to the zoo is the World’s Fair Pavilion. If you have time, walk up and see it. Whatever you decide to do at the zoo, or nearby, bring a camera!