Our Mission

The mission of the Saint Louis Zoo 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.

Located on 90 acres in Forest Park, the Saint Louis Zoo is home to 655 species of animals, many of them rare and endangered. It is one of the few free zoos in the nation and has been named #1 zoo by Zagat Survey's U.S. Family Travel Guide in association with Parenting magazine. The Zoo annually attracts 3 million visitors, who can see more than 19,000 wild animals—not including the thousands of leafcutters, ants and butterflies at the Zoo.

Since its 1910 founding, the Zoo has been renowned for its beautiful naturalistic exhibits, its diverse collection of animals and its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. The Zoo's Education Department staff—the largest among the nation's zoos—offers programs designed to help visitors of all ages and abilities learn through experience, involvement and discovery. Of the three million visitors hosted annually by the Saint Louis Zoo, approximately 1.7 million visitors interacted with an Educational Interpreter, Zoo Docent or Zookeeper who provided educational experiences and information.

Animals Always

The Saint Louis Zoo cares for a number of rare and endangered animals like Asian elephants, the horned guan, Amur tiger, Matschie's tree kangaroo, Speke's gazelle, golden-headed lion tamarin, Amur leopard and Chinese alligator. The Zoo has one of the finest collections of hoofed mammals in the nation and a spectacular natural outdoor setting for tigers, leopards and other big cats. Its Reptile House is home to more than 700 animals—from alligators, snakes and crocodiles to frogs, toads and salamanders.

With waterfalls, fountains and pools, the Zoo's Bear Bluffs have served as a model for other zoos and as home to spectacled, sloth and grizzly bears. The Zoo is also well-known for its diverse array of bird species, with a waterfowl collection that is one of the largest of any zoo in North America and hundreds of exotic species, many of them endangered. The Emerson Children's Zoo features friendly animals to see and touch, animal shows, educational play activities, a playground and even water geysers.

The Monsanto Insectarium is one of a handful of exhibits in North America dedicated solely to bugs. It hosts more than 20 major exhibit areas, with more than 100 species of live insects and includes a geodesic dome filled with flora, fauna, beautiful butterflies, moths and katydids.

Four Continent Journey

The Zoo's Rivers Edge allows visitors to journey along a mythical waterway through four continents. This naturalistic environment showcases multiple species from cheetahs, hyenas, hippos and rhinos to a herd of three generations of elephants.

The first walk-through sub-Antarctic penguin exhibit in North America, Penguin & Puffin Coast offers two spacious domed exhibits, complete with rugged coastlines, towering rockscapes and underwater viewing of lively penguins, puffins and various water birds. (Exhibit is currently closed for construction of the new Polar Bear Point. It will reopen in 2015 when the polar bear habitat is completed.)

With its lushly landscaped habitats, flowing streams, huge deadfall trees and vines, the Donn & Marilyn Lipton Fragile Forest is an outdoor summer habitat for orangutans, chimpanzees and gorillas. During the fall and winter, the great apes may be seen in their winter homes at Jungle of the Apes, a comfortable, stimulating environment fostering natural group behaviors and interactions. With exhibits like this, the Zoo facilitates the breeding of these endangered species.


From April to September at Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks, visitors can watch, touch and occasionally feed the unique and fascinating stingrays, as they glide through a warm saltwater pool.

Sea Lion Sound opened in 2012, making it possible for visitors to walk through an underwater tunnel into the sea lions' habitat, with sea lions swimming all around them. A landscape inspired by the Pacific Northwest coast, Sea Lion Sound has attracted visitors into several viewing areas at the Zoo's new sea lion and seal exhibit.

Saving Endangered Species

The Saint Louis Zoo is a world leader in saving endangered species and their habitats, leading the nation with the greatest number of active Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plans. SSPs are long-term programs for conservation breeding, habitat preservation, field conservation, reintroduction and supportive research for threatened and endangered species. U.S. zoos and aquariums spend $160 million annually on field conservation projects and have funded 4,000 projects in more than 100 countries.

Through its WildCare Institute, the Zoo focuses on wildlife management and recovery, conservation science, and support of the human populations that coexist with wildlife in 12 conservation hotspots around the globe, including four in Missouri. The WildCare Institute, with the support of its conservation fellows, takes a holistic approach to troubled ecosystems by addressing wildlife management and recovery, conservation science, and support of the human populations that coexist with wildlife.

The Zoo's Institute of Conservation Medicine focuses on diseases that affect the conservation of threatened and endangered wildlife species. Scientists study the origin, movement and risk factors associated with diseases so that they can better understand the impact of diseases on the conservation of wildlife populations, the links between the health of zoo animals and freeliving wildlife populations and the movement of diseases between wildlife, domestic animals and humans.

Animal Care

The Zoo's Endangered Species Research Center & Veterinary Hospital complex hosts a central treatment area, research laboratories, an animal quarantine wing, and administrative space. A clinical pathology laboratory allows for careful study of diseases. The Zoo's veterinary staff continues to make "house calls" to animals which can be treated more comfortably where they are housed.

At the Orthwein Animal Nutrition Center, the experienced staff works hard to make sure the animals eat well. The Zoo's staff includes a full-time nutritionist—the Saint Louis Zoo is one of only a handful of zoos to have a nutritionist on staff. It takes as many as 24 man hours per day to prepare the bulk foods and special diets needed throughout the Saint Louis Zoo.


The primary focus of the Zoo's Research Department is reproduction. This includes studies of behavior, physiology, endocrinology and gamete biology. Zoos must enhance captive breeding programs for future conservation recovery of threatened and endangered species. Because managing recovery programs involves controlling as well as increasing reproduction, development and testing of contraceptive methods is also important. In fact, the Saint Louis Zoo is home to the AZA Contraception Center, which serves zoos across the nation.

Revenue Sources, Economic Impact

In 1916, the citizens of St. Louis voted a tax for construction and operation of the Zoo. Through the years the community continues to support the Zoo, with approximately one third of its budget coming from property taxes in St. Louis City and County, a third from food service, gift shops and parking lots and a third from private donations, corporations, foundations and memberships. In 2012, 1,488 active volunteers provide more than 95,000 hours, valued at almost $2.1 million.

In 2010, the Regional Chamber and Growth Association analyzed the Zoo's economic impact—a measure of the way dollars associated with the Zoo circulate through the region. Analysts found that the Zoo's annual impact was $187.5 million based on a range of factors from direct spending for goods and services of almost $52 million to attracting $26.3 million in out-of town spending.

On The Web:

Zoo website: stlzoo.org
Facebook: facebook.com/stlzoo
Twitter: twitter.com/stlzoo
YouTube: youtube.com/stlzootube
Instagram: instagram.com/stlzoo
Pinterest: pinterest.com/stlzoo

Media Contacts

If you are a member of the media, please let us know if you need assistance with interviews, images or information.

Susan Gallagher, Public Relations Director
E-mail: pr@stlzoo.org
Direct: (314) 646-4633
Zoo: (314) 781-0900, ext. 4633
Fax: (314) 646-5532

Christy Childs, Public Relations Manager
E-mail: pr@stlzoo.org
Direct: (314) 646-4639
Zoo: (314) 781-0900, ext. 4639
Fax: (314) 646-5532

Joanna Bender, Public Relations Coordinator
E-mail: pr@stlzoo.org
Direct: (314) 646-4703
Zoo: (314) 781-0900, ext. 4703
Fax: (314) 646-5532