The St. Louis Zoo has a long and amazing history behind it. The world famous flight cage, commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute, was placed in Forest Park during the 1904 Worlds Fair. After the fair ended the residents of St. Louis fought for, and purchased the flight cage setting off the idea of creating a zoo for the local residents. In late 1910 the Zoological Society of St. Louis was formed and after much debate in 1913 70 acres of land inside of Forest Park was earmarked for the zoo. Throughout the years the zoo has gained a reputation as a leader in research, conservation efforts and education. Recently the zoo has ranked third best in the United States and fourth in the world. One of my favorite things about the zoo? It’s FREE.
Growing up, I considered a trip to the zoo one of the best things to do whether it was a school or family trip. The zoo is designed mostly without fences, instead relying on moats and various land recreations to give the viewer a better view of the animal and its habitat. The children’s zoo boasts a petting zoo, slides through an otter tank, and numerous shows catering to all ages. And when talking of the STL zoo you can’t forget about the Emerson Zooline Railroad. It’s the largest miniature railroad in the US and has been running since 1963. While the tickets to ride are not free, the money spent is well worth the leisurely trip around the zoo.
A short walk from the park is Turtle Playground, a great place for children and adults to play, picnic and recoup from the busy day at the Zoo. It is also where the locals park for free when visiting the zoo. Concrete turtles and a massive snake are laid out along a gravel pathway and gives kids ample opportunity to go crazy. The sculptures were designed by Bob Cassilly, the founder of City Museum. The City Museum deserves its very own post so I won’t go into details other than to mention it is a must see attraction.
Next week I’m back in Nashville exploring Fort Negley.