The Saint Louis Zoo is one of the leading zoological parks located in the St. Louis area, and one of the top zoos in America (“Saint Louis Zoo”). This zoological park provides more than just entertainment for its audience; it is also about caring and educating people on animals. Their mission statement is “to conserve animals and their habitats through animal management, research, recreation, and educational programs that encourage the support and enrich the experience of the public” (“Saint Louis Zoo”). This zoo is quite passionate about animal conservation and providing research organizations the support needed to reach the goals of keeping the animals safe. Each aspect of their mission statement is brought to light by the educational programs and exhibits that showcase healthy species. Their contribution to the many animal exhibits provide access to new experiences for all who visit and explore the zoo. The Saint Louis Zoo allows their message to be fulfilled by their conservation efforts, research and educational programs, and by engaging with their audience.
Certain aspects of the zoo I found most interesting appeared near the entrance. As I got closer to the building, there was a lot of activity happening around the zoo entrance, mainly families trying to gather up their kids for a family photo in front of the rock structure. Trying to distract myself, I noticed on both sides of the building walls were facial sculptures of animals, one of them being a giant, protruding gorilla face extending from the right side of the building. I thought the idea of having the different animal faces was something special which added to the aesthetics of the actual building. In addition to the sculptures, the blue tile along the walls provided a playful, yet professional aspect of the architecture.
As I walked inside, I grabbed one of the brochures and began to look at the different exhibits I wanted to see at the zoo. I first decided on going to the large underground aquarium, but it was on the other side of the zoo. Continuing to look at the brochure, I thought I would make it an adventure to see all the exhibits until I reached the aquarium at the end. The exhibit closest to me was the Insectarium in the Discovery Corner. As I got closer to the entrance, I saw a bunch of families trying to take pictures in front of a giant beetle. The beetle looked very life-like, but luckily it was just a sculpture and not the real thing. The adults seemed to love the sculpture and the kids were playing on it, which was okay because the zoo allowed for children to climb on it. It was very playful and allowed for a very interactive experience for the children and even the adults. Walking inside, I found myself quite overwhelmed by the different exhibit areas of the live insects. There was much to see in this dark, medium-sized room of people crowded together; therefore it made it hard to really fully enjoy the exhibits. In order to not be in anyone’s way, I figured the easiest way to see everything was to skim through the displays. I just lightly read through the different plaques which explained what the insect was, what it eats, and what eats it. I was also able to take pictures as I went along through the displays of different species of cockroaches, beetles, spiders and scorpions.
Beside the Discovery Corner area is the River’s Edge area, which contains many of the bigger animals like elephants and rhinos. These animals were definitely the loudest in the zoo, but made it easy to know where to find the exhibit area. I walked over a bridge to get to the River’s Edge, where the Asian elephants were and some decorative signs pointing towards the sun bear exhibit. The elephants were in a large space and a metal gate separated us from them. The elephants did not get too close to the gate, which makes sense because as animals, they would be more scared of us than we are of them. Reading the plaques was something I found to be a positive aspect of the zoo because the plaques attached to the rails included the history of the Asian elephants and where they came from in Asia. Near the end of the rails, some of the plaques gave examples of how the zoo takes care of them, and even had fun facts about the individual elephants and what they liked to do. I watched the two baby elephants, who even as babies are much larger than I am, playing with a ball and trying to get their mother’s attention by gently nudging her. As I kept walking to another part of the area, I saw turtles in little swimming pools, eating and poking their heads out from their shells. I think this environment really shows how the Saint Louis Zoo really makes an effort in keeping people interested and able to educate them at the same time through the plaques and how they set up their exhibits in certain ways.
The exhibit I visited last was the one I was very excited to explore. The aquarium at the Saint Louis Zoo is an underground tank, which holds thousands of gallons of water and contains local types of fish. I thought this to be an interesting aspect of the zoo because most of the zoos I have been to have aquariums filled with exotic fish, rather than native fish. It was a huge underground area with lots of moisture in the air, so I made sure to keep my feet steady in case I would find myself falling on the rock floor. I saw lots of many types of native fish, like different types of catfish and bluegills which were local to the area. The fish came right up the glass and they seemed to be as interested in us as we were to them. As I exited the aquarium, I saw across the way was an area called Lakeside Crossing. I stopped by when I heard familiar sounds of sea lions and children imitating them. I got closer and saw a little portal door at the bottom of one of the sides for children to watch the sea lions swimming underwater. The little things the zoo provides allows them to make the point of which they have a high interest in their animals safety, but also make efforts so the visitors are able to enjoy new experiences and learn in the same capacity.
The Saint Louis Zoo offers a lot of resources to keep educated on their animals. The zoo has a Wildlife Institute, where they team up with conservators to preserve endangered species and restoring ecosystems (“Saint Louis Zoo”). The zoo spreads the message of conservation of these endangered species by having activities around the display sites where the visitors can read about the dangers of cutting down forests and taking away resources from animals. I noticed around most of the entrance and exit areas were recycling bins, which I thought really emphasized parts of their message about educating the public and keeping the animals safe. The public need to understand how important conservation is and how by recycling, they are helping the environment and restoring ecosystems. Looking at their resources and programs, I can see how much this zoo takes pride in their animals and teaching others about different problems going on in the world with populations of animals decreasing and restoration in forests.
One of the most impressive aspects about the Saint Louis Zoo is how much time and work they put into their exhibits. The zoo is actually accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which is a wonderful achievement for any zoo (“Saint Louis Zoo”). The employees definitely take pride in their work and put a lot of heart into making the zoo a place of encouragement and experience. The employees have strenuous, but rewarding jobs as they take care of the animals. A lot of heart goes into making this zoo a place of wonderful care and consideration of the animals. Every moment from which I was at the Saint Louis Zoo felt like a fantasy of this overwhelming joy. While other families were enjoying being together, they watched the animals do the same with their own families. The Saint Louis Zoo allows for an experience which other zoos do not seem to provide, while other zoos feel very confined or hard to really feel their commitment, this zoo allows for a close-up and inviting experience.
Some of the other details about this zoo I found to be very surprising and helpful for me, but also for other visitors, is admission price. One of the best things to find out about attractions when you are visiting somewhere is free admission. The Saint Louis Zoo is actually one of the few zoological parks which provide free admission for the visitors. There are some things you have to pay for though, such as parking fees or if you want to see certain attractions or programs within the zoo. Although there is a fee to pay for parking, having free admission is very helpful, especially for families who are looking for something interesting to do together. Most families avoid going to museums and zoos/aquariums because of the cost as it can get expensive having to pay for parking and then the admission ticket for every family member. Having free entry into the zoo is great and definitely one of the most positive aspects of the zoo because more families are likely to visit the Saint Louis Zoo and learn about things they would not be able to learn elsewhere.
When I got to the zoo, I realized that I have trouble reading maps, especially when there are many different areas to explore. The map on their brochure was slightly confusing to me because of how large the exhibit areas were and the different paths they had between them. I did see areas along the way which did help me, these were places which were not specially listed on the map. My intention isn’t to say that the Saint Louis Zoo is too big, as the zoo should really be big enough to house all of their animals, but maybe they should find an easier way to label specific areas to make it better to read. The Saint Louis Zoo is really an impressive zoo because of how large it is in space, but their map could be more detailed and specific.
A lot of work goes into the making of the Saint Louis Zoo and at the heart of this work is the animals. The reason the board members, employees, volunteers, etc. put their hard work and time into this zoo because of the animals and the interest in helping them grow safely. Seeing the help from the partners in their organizations to the their Wildlife Institute, they allow for education and conservation to be their main focus. The zoo pushes for the better care of the animals and helping to raise awareness about animals being endangered everyday by cutting down resources. Certainly from all this zoo provides, the Saint Louis Zoo wholeheartedly fulfills their mission statement based on how they care for their animals and encourage the public to become educated about the animals they observe at the zoo.
“Saint Louis Zoo.” Home : Saint Louis Zoo. Web. Accessed 3 November 2017.