The Saint Louis Zoo is home to more than 14,000 animals and nearly 500 different species. It is known around the world for its innovative approaches to animal management and care, wildlife conservation, education, and research. The Saint Louis Zoo is one of the few free zoos in the country, and it draws about 3 million visitors each year with exhibits like Big Cat Country, Penguin and Puffin Coast, and multiple aviary exhibits to let guests experience visits with many birds.

St Louis Zoo Railroad

The Zoo Contains Six Unique Sections

At the River’s Edge

River’s Edge is home to a diverse collection of animals from four continents: South America, South America, the Savannah and Nile of Africa, and Asia. North America features fish and wildlife and features fish from the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, including crayfish, American bullfrogs, channel catfish, gar, and bluegill. Bush dogs,  bush dogs, capybaras, scarlet macaws, and giant anteaters are on display in the South America exhibit. Black rhinoceroses, African wild dogs, African sacred ibises,red river hogs, bat-eared foxes, and a colony of Southern carmine bee-eaters are on display in the African Savanna exhibit. Hippopotamuses, tilapia, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and a dwarf mongoose colony are featured in the African Nile exhibit. Adult Asian elephants and sun bears are featured in the Asia exhibit.

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Lakeside Crossing

Lakeside Crossing is located in the heart of the zoo and features a variety of food and shopping options, as well as a grassy plaza where visitors can relax. Additionally, it includes Caribbean Cove, a shallow touch pool located beneath a large pavilion and home to southern stingrays, cownose rays,  bonnethead sharks, and bamboo sharks. It is only open during the warmer months and is one of the few areas of the zoo that requires an admission fee.

Discovery Corner

Emerson Dinoroarus and the Bayer Insectarium are located in Discovery Corner. Prior to being replaced by Dinoroarus in 2021, the St. Louis Children’s Zoo featured numerous educational features, including a see-through slide through the otter pool and numerous birds, snakes, frogs, and other animals that volunteers and staff bring out for the children to observe up close. Dinoroarus is one of the Zoo’s few fee-based exhibits. Tasmanian devils are housed in this section as of March 2016.

The Wild

Grizzly Ridge, Polar Bear Point, Conservation Carousel, Fragile Forest, Jungle of the Apes, and Penguin and Puffin Coast are all located in The Wild. Polar Bear Point has a favorite animal friend, Kali, a polar bear. Huck and Finn, two grizzly bears, arrived in 2017 to celebrate the opening of Grizzly Ridge. The Fragile Forest and Jungle of the Apes are naturalized outdoor habitats for gorillas, chimps, and orangutans. The Penguin and Puffin Coast is home to a variety of water birds, including Emperor penguins, Magellanic penguins, rockhopper, gentoo, horned, tufted, and king eiders. Black-tailed prairie dogs and red pandas each have their own habitats in The Wild.

Historic Hill

The Bird House, Bird Garden, Sea Lion Sound, Herpetarium, Chain of Lakes, Flight Cage and Cypress Swamp, and Primate House are all located on Historic Hill. The Bird House is home to a variety of birds, including the rhinoceros hornbill, hyacinth macaw, bald eagle, burrowing owl, toco toucan, Cape thick-knee, golden pheasant, kookaburra, king vulture, Mariana fruit-dove, horned guan, superb starling, tawny frogmouth, Outdoor bird enclosures are located in the Bird Garden. Sea Lion Sound features an underwater tunnel where visitors can observe harbor seals and California sea lions and t  The herpetarium is home to a majority of the zoo’s reptiles and amphibians, which include the Chinese alligator, Jamaican iguana,  McCord’s box turtle, Panamanian golden frog, and Arakan forest turtle. Other species include the green anaconda, Komodo dragon,  mountain chicken, spotted turtle, false gharial, king cobra, Gila monster, frill-Aldabra giant tortoise, and necked lizard,  tuatara, reticulated python, tiger salamander, three-toed amphiuma, and pancake tortoise. The Chain of Lakes is a collection of small enclosures located between the Bird House and the Herpetarium and Primate House. It is home to the zoo’s North American river otters and alligator snapping turtles. At 228 feet (69 meters) long, 84 feet (26 meters) wide, and 50 feet (15 meters) high, the Flight Cage was the largest bird cage ever built in 1904 and remains one of the world’s largest free-flight aviaries to this day. The Cypress Swamp is dedicated to North American fowl found in the southern Mississippi River’s cypress swamps. Black-crowned night heron, blue-winged teal, cattle egret,  great egret, bufflehead duck, double-crested cormorant,  wood duck, northern bobwhite, roseate spoonbill, snowy egret, and American white ibis are among the birds in the aviary. The Primate House is where the zoo’s monkeys and lemurs are located. Coquerel’s sifaka,  Allen’s swamp monkey, golden-headed lion tamarin, lion-tailed macaque, pygmy marmoset, black-and-white colobus monkey, ring-tailed lemur, and white-faced saki are among the species represented.

Red Rocks

Big Cat Country and Antelope House are located in Red Rocks. Big Cat Country is home to a variety of large cat species.
The African lion, Amur tiger, Amur leopard, jaguar, cougar, and snow leopard are all represented. The addax, babirusa, Banteng, Grevy’s zebra, Bactrian camel, gerenuk, Indian muntjac, lesser kudu, okapi, reticulated giraffe, Speke’s gazelle, Somali wild ass, Sichuan takin, gorals, Transcapsian urial, Soemmerring’s gazelle, and Visayan warty pig are among the species present. The Red Rocks exhibit includes the marsupials red kangaroo and tammar wallaby, as well as several birds displayed alongside the ungulates, including the ostrich, Stanley crane, grey crowned crane, and Sarus Crane.

St Louis Zoo FAQs

Do you have to wear a mask at the Saint Louis Zoo?

Masks or face coverings must be worn inside for all guests over the age of five, even if they have been vaccinated. Currently, people who haven’t been fully vaccinated are required to cover their faces with masks or face coverings both in and outside.

Is the Saint Louis Zoo free?

The zoo is Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited, and general admission is free thanks to a cultural tax district, the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD). Some special attractions require a fee, however, such as Stingrays at Caribbean Cove, or the Zooline Railroad.

Do you have to have reservations for St. Louis Zoo?

Currently, reservations are required, as the St. Louis Zoo is limiting attendance allow guests to practice good social distancing and not be too close to each other. Advance reservations can be made on the Zoo’s website.

Did the St Louis Zoo close?

The whole St. Louis Zoo will not close. There will continue to be free admission to the zoo, as has been the case for over 110 years, despite COVID-19. However, reservations are now required. The Children’s Zoo did close in 2020, but the rest of the Zoo is still open and available for visitors.

Is the St Louis zoo open year-round?

The Zoo is open daily year-round. Check the zoo’s website to check for special hours and make your reservation.

How long does it take to walk through the St Louis Zoo?

If you take the time to visit each exhibit area, you could spend anywhere from 4 to 7 hours at the zoo, if you take the time to read the posted information and observe the animals. If you are visiting with small children, you can of course skip a lot of the reading time, dropping your visit to about 2-5 hours.

Can you take your dog to the Zoo?

Dogs, cats, or other pets are not allowed at the SLZ unless they are service animals. However, even service animals are not allowed in the Cypress Swamp (1904 Flight Cage) or Antelope House. Comfort or emotional support dogs do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and as such, are not permitted in the Zoo.

Is St Louis Zoo safe?

Provided guests follow posted instructions, the zoo is very safe. The exhibits, enclosures, and habitats are set up with safety in mind, and new policies have been implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The area the zoo is located, Forest Park, is also safe for travel to and from.

How much is food at the St Louis Zoo?

There are multiple options for food located on the zoo’s property. You can stop for ice cream, Dippin Dots, or at Pineapple Paradise for a smoothie for a cheaper way to cool off, or stop in at Cafe Kudu, Ray’s Snack Shack, or East Refreshments on Historic Hill for a place to sit down for a meal. Restaurants and meal options (and therefore, expected prices) can sometimes vary by season. If you don’t want to stress about food prices, you may bring in coolers and picnic baskets, and there are picnic areas throughout the zoo. Glass bottles, however, are prohibited.

How big is the Saint Louis Zoo?

There are 655 different kinds of animals at the Saint Louis Zoo, many of which are rare or endangered. It is spread out over 90 acres in Forest Park, where the St. Louis World’s Fair was held in 1904. It is one of the few free zoos in the country, and it has been named the best in the country by Zagat Survey’s U.S. Family Travel Guide and Parenting magazine.

How much is parking at the St Louis Zoo?

General parking is $10 per vehicle. Oversized vehicles that are under 24 feet cost $20 per vehicle and must park in the South lot. Check the zoo’s website to see which lots are open on the day you will be attending, or check for any changes to parking fees.

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Read More About the St Louis Zoo

See the next Things You Must See In St. Louis about the City Museum.

Dr. Jason P. Brinton is an internationally recognized specialist in the field of LASIK and refractive surgery. He is a graduate of Harvard College, earned his medical doctorate from the Harvard Medical School and is board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology.