The Zoo is now open! All guests, including Zoo members, must now reserve free, timed tickets prior to visiting.
We are excited to welcome you back to the Saint Louis Zoo! When you are ready to visit, we're more than ready for you! Until then we are happy to continue to #BringTheStlZooToYou for you stay connected to your Zoo.
Don't forget our STLZOOm live webinars for school audiences thanks to our Saint Louis Zoo Educators!
Our staff remain dedicated to the animals in our care. Your support is vital to our future. Please consider making a contribution to our Critical Animal Care Fund.
September 22, 2020
Autumn at the Zoo
Today is the autumnal equinox. Autumn is the perfect time to visit the Zoo and this year we are devoting two whole weekends to celebrating the season. Join us from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, October 3-4 and 10-11 for Autumn with the Animals. Enjoy a walk around the Zoo and see some of your favorite animals! Fall into the season with fall-themed apple spiced specialty food and drinks. Even our animals will get to enjoy some apple treats with special autumn themed enrichment. Autumn with the Animals is a free event. Zoo reservations are required. #AutumnAtTheZoo #StlZoo #FallAtTheZoo
Today, September 22, is World Rhino Day! Did you know that there are five species of rhino currently found in the world? These include Sumatran, Javan, greater one-horned, white, and black rhinos! These five species are all threatened by poaching and habitat fragmentation. At the Zoo, you may see one of our three black rhinos! Black rhinos are solitary animals and are known to spend their days alternating between taking a nap, wallowing in mud and browsing for food using their specialized, prehensile lip.
Through the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa and its partnership with the Northern Rangelands Trust, the Zoo has helped provide funding to the Sera Rhino Sanctuary and anti-poaching teams to help keep black rhinos safe in their native habitat. In addition, the Zoo has also supported the International Rhino Foundation to aid in their efforts to bring awareness and to protect threatened rhino populations in the wild. By supporting the Saint Louis Zoo, you are supporting conservation efforts to #KeepTheFiveAlive!
September 21, 2020
Red light, No light
By Eli Baskir, Manager of Behavior Sciences
Think about the length of your average Saint Louis Zoo visit. Then, consider how long keepers and other Zoo staff are present on site--somewhere between 8-10 hours, depending on their exact job. These schedules mean that humans are only at the Zoo for about a third of a 24-hour day. Once all the guests and keepers head out for the night, what are animals doing with the rest of their day?
After the keepers go home, nocturnal species are just getting started! As these animals strongly prefer to move under cover of darkness, we can't leave lights on to watch them. Instead, we use cameras and special lights for overnight filming. In the Bayer Insectarium, we are trying to learn which combinations of color and bulb will least affect nocturnal insects—in short, under which lighting type will insects act as if they are outside at night?
While humans see wavelengths of light in what's commonly known as the visual spectrum—from long wavelength red to shorter wavelength violet—other animals have different sensory capabilities. For example, many insects are attracted to ultraviolet light; plants that rely on bees for pollination will often have special "pollen guides" that can only be seen under ultraviolet light.
On the other end of the spectrum is infrared light, which, just like ultraviolet, cannot be seen by humans or by many other species. Most video cameras can record footage under infrared illumination, which makes it a good choice to use for night filming. But using infrared light also has limitations. Images filmed under infrared are recorded as black and white, and the light also relies on hard surfaces from which to bounce and fill an area, so filming outside or on a soft substrate can result in dim, fuzzy, unclear images.
Bulb type is also important for filming. While using an LED at home can be good for energy bills, it also gives off less heat than incandescent bulbs and has other qualities that make an LED a better choice to use for overnight filming. We are still learning about how different species react to LED illumination when compared to incandescent bulbs. Some insects seem to be unable to see red light—especially red light from an LED—which could make this combination of color and bulb type very useful for overnight filming.
To test how red LED illumination affects the activity of nocturnal insects, we performed an experiment with dragon headed katydids. Keepers barely see this species move at all during the day, but we know they move and eat at night, since keepers arriving in the morning find chewed food and katydids in different positions. We compared the movement and behavior of three katydids during a 2-hour period starting at noon to another 2-hour period starting at midnight. While the "noon" observations occurred under the normal fluorescent lights of the Insectarium, the "midnight" observations took place over five evenings when two red LED bulbs were the only source of light for the katydids.
Our observations showed that these normally inactive and immobile insects will move and climb all over their habitat at night as they perform many active behaviors, such as eating and cleaning themselves. While we don't yet know for certain if katydids can't see the red light or if they can see it and don't react to it, it does seem like the activities we filmed are similar to what we would expect to see from katydids in darkness. We are hoping to expand this study by observing other light-sensitive insects. Some of the possible subjects live in burrows or in other areas that are difficult to film, so we are currently consulting with Insectarium staff, builders from our Facilities team, and other experts to develop the right kind of set up to collect footage from reclusive animals.
Photo: Dylan Cebulske
Thanks for visiting Lexy. We are happy to hear you spent your special day with us! #MyStlZooVisit
Have you made your reservation yet? The Zoo is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. stlzoo.org/zooreservations
September 18, 2020
International Red Panda Day
Happy #InternationalRedPandaDay! Red pandas can be found in the forests of the Himalayas in Southern Asia. They make their homes in mountain forests and bamboo thickets, living in small groups or alone. They are territorial and use scent, urine and communal latrines to mark their range. They are active mainly at night and spend their days sleeping in trees, out of the reach of most predators. Red pandas are primarily vegetarians, with bamboo shoots a favorite food, but they also eat roots, fruits, eggs or small reptiles. Red panda conservation status is endangered. Habitat loss is the number one threat – deforestation and the degradation and fragmentation of red panda habitat. Unsustainable harvests of forest products and bamboo are depleting forest resources and reducing forest quality. Red pandas become vulnerable to other threats, such as poaching, when crossing unsuitable habitat in search of suitable forests and bamboo. Range country conservation organizations work closely with local communities to develop successful conservation programs that help support their economic well-being and preserve the environment. Conservation programs such as the Forest Guardians workiwith their communities to monitor and protect red panda habitats and educate their communities.
The Saint Louis Zoo is helping red pandas through our participation in the Species Survival Plan for Red Pandas. This is a cooperative population management and breeding program in North American zoos, overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), with many zoos working together to ensure the survival of the species. Conservation breeding programs help to maintain healthy populations, build knowledge of good animal husbandry, and provide care and support for wild conservation projects. You can help protect red pandas and their native habitats by purchasing sustainable timber and paper products marked with the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) logo, by using recycled products and by learning and educating your friends and family about red panda conservation. – Carnivore Keeper, Carrie #KeeperTakeover
Pete and Izzy by Roger Brandt
International Red Panda Day
We currently have two red pandas at the Saint Louis Zoo! These two are not a breeding pair but they live together peacefully. Izzy is our 17-year-old female and Pete is our 9-year-old male. Izzy was born at the Minnesota Zoo and has lived here since 2008. Since she is an older panda, you generally won’t see her as up and active as Pete. She has a preferred resting spot along the back wall and while you can see her if you know where to look, she is fairly difficult to find if you don’t know where her spot is. She is particularly food motived and will usually interact with enrichment, if it involves food! She tends to be fairly calm and easy going. Izzy’s face is much lighter than Pete’s but her overall coloring is a much deeper red. Pete was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo and has lived here since 2014. He tends to be more active than Izzy so you may see him more frequently. His preferred resting spot is up in the treehouse!
Hint: you usually have to step back to see him curled up. He tends to do his own thing more than Izzy and is more wary of new things. He will also interact more often with enrichment. Pete has a very dark face and very dark tear marks under his eyes and his overall coloring is much brighter red than Izzy’s. Next time you come to the Zoo make sure to say “Hi” to the original pandas! If you happen to see a keeper in the area, ask them to show you how to tell them apart. We love to tell people all about our red pandas! – Carnivore Keeper, Jackie #KeeperTakeover
Pete and Izzy by Robin Winkelman
In honor of #International RedPandaDay tomorrow are you ready for a super nerdy red panda post full of crazy Latin names? Of course you are!
So, we know that red pandas are cute. But what is a red panda, really? Is it a panda bear? A raccoon? Some kind of cat? What is it? As it turns out, that’s not a super easy question to answer. The red panda eats bamboo, just like the giant panda, but they are not bears (though they do share a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago). Their faces sometimes resemble a cat, but they are not cats either, though the word Ailurus in their scientific name Ailurus fulgens fulgens is from the Greek word ailouros, which means “cat.”They definitely look more like raccoons than giant pandas. For many years scientists classified red pandas in the Procyonidae family with raccoons and coatis. But, lo and behold, DNA studies now show that red pandas actually are in their own unique family group that diverged from the rest of the Carnivora order. So, what is a red panda? A red panda is a red panda in its own family: Ailuridae! It has no close living relatives. If we must find them a cousin we can note that Ailuridae falls under the superfamily of carnivoran mammals known as Musteloidea, which includes weasels, otters, badgers, raccoons, skunks and their relatives. So, that is why though our red pandas Izzy and Pete solely feast on bamboo, fruit and specially formulated biscuits they are cared for by the Saint Louis Zoo’s Carnivore team! – Carnivore Keeper, Carolyn #KeeperTakeover
Izzy. By Megan Turner
Our two red pandas, Izzy and Pete, are a favorite among Zoo guests – and they are pretty special to us too! Izzy and Pete serve as two ambassadors for their wild counterparts. Red pandas are considered a flagship species which helps raise awareness for the regions that they are from, and if we help protect red pandas, then we are helping to protect the entire ecosystem around them. Red pandas thriving in an area can be used as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. Red pandas are native to areas of Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar and Nepal. The mountain chains that are found in these regions are one of our planet’s biodiversity hotspots and must be preserved! Raising awareness about this species is imperative to their survival and by coming to the Zoo and learning more about them, you can help spread that awareness!
Tomorrow is #International RedPandaDay! Check out stlzoo.org/redpandaday - Carnivore Keeper, Mary #KeeperTakeover
Pete. Greg Schumacher