St. Louis Confidential

Animals Always

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I just read an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch yesterday about how the Saint Louis Zoo has two baby lion lion cubs, named Mtai and Serafina, that were born this past Valentine’s Day. As you can imagine, they are adorable. They’re not old enough to be seen by the public yet, but I hope that the next time I’m in St. Louis I’ll get to go see them. I mean, what could be cuter than this?

Mtai and Serafina playing together at the St. Louis Zoo. Photo by Johnny Andrews

The cubs are being raised by Zoo staff because the mother was unable to produce enough milk. Unfortunately, the two other cubs born in the litter did not survive due to the same problem.

Reading about the lion cubs made me realize how much I miss going to the Saint. Louis Zoo. The Zoo is one of St. Louis’s best attractions. It’s consistently rated among the top zoos in the country, and best of all, it’s completely free.

I used to go there all the time with my parents and siblings. I remember going to see Raja, an elephant born at the Zoo in 1992, and then seeing him grow up and have his own baby elephants, Maliha, Jade, and Kenzi. Raja was the first Asian Elephant born at the St. Louis Zoo.

The Saint Louis Zoo itself was born out of the 1904 World’s Fair, which was held in St. Louis. The Fair featured a “walk-through flight cage” that the city of St. Louis bought after the Fair, rather than letting it go back to Washington, D.C. The flight cage became the major motivating factor in the decision to build a zoo in the city, and the cage is still there to this day. The Saint Louis Zoo was the first zoo in the world to be municipally supported.

As I have grown up, the Zoo has grown with me. I have seen the additions of new exhibits such as the “River’s Edge,” featuring elephants and hippos, as well as new architecture, such as the animal sculpture below that is now at the Zoo’s entrance.The sculpture, called Animals Always, is the largest sculpture at any public zoo in the United States.

The Animals Always steel sculpture at the Saint Louis zoo is 130 feet long, 36 feet high, and weighs 100 tons. Photo by zoochat.com.

I also remember when the zoo opened its “Penguin and Puffin Coast,” an indoor area that you can walk through, featuring penguins and puffins that climb on rocks, dive, and swim through the water, just feet away from where you’re standing. Penguin and Puffin Coast is a fan favorite on St. Louis Summer days, because the exhibit is kept at cool temperatures. There is almost always a line there. Check out this video of the exhibit from the Zoo’s Web site:

Even though the Zoo is great to visit as a little kid, it’s also a fun place to go with friends, when you’re older. I usually try to take all my out-of-town visitors there.

My favorite animals to see are the orangutans, who are often seen dancing or imitating onlookers, the giraffes, who will come up to the fence to greet you and get close enough to touch (but don’t touch them!), and the lions and tigers who rule “Big Cat Country.” I also like encountering the peacocks that roam freely throughout the grounds.

As Former St. Louis Zoo Director George Vierheller said, “There are two things a lively city needs–a good zoo and a good baseball team.” I wholeheartedly agree, and if you read my last post, you’ll see that St. Louis has both.


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