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.
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.
Are you a #StlZooperHero? This summer, we are excited to bring back our annual Instagram Contest with a special 2020 edition. Learn how you can enter for a chance to win a $125 Zoo gift card at #StlZooperHero Instagram Contest
July 06, 2020
Check out stlzoo.org/stlzoom and stlzoo.org/conservationlearning for this week’s virtual conservation learning opportunities and catch up on previous videos and activities from our Education Department.
We have heard how much you love Zoo Animal Stories and this week you and your family can learn how to make your own story! In this do-it-yourself tutorial we will explain how to make your own traveling felt board.
Plastic Free July EcoChallenge
By Leslie Gittemeier, #byetobags Coordinator.
We care about the well-being of animals here at our Zoo and around the world. One of the ways that we help animals is by reducing our use of plastic.
Plastic is abundant and can be very harmful to animals. According to research published by Lindeque, et. al. this May, there could be between 12.5 and 125 trillion plastic particles in the ocean. Nearly 700 species are known to be affected by plastic pollution. Animals can be harmed by plastic in three main ways.
- Animals can eat plastic.
- Animals can become entangled in plastic.
- Animals can be affected by plastic production (air pollution).
All kinds of animals have been found to consume plastic, from sea-dwelling animals like zooplankton and whales, to land-dwelling animals like elephants and camels. Some eat plastic mistaking it for food, while others ingest it from the water they drink or the animals/plants they eat. Many tiny pieces (microplastics) are able to pass through the digestive systems of most animals without causing visible harm, but larger pieces have pierced organs or blocked digestive tracts of animals. In research published by Wilcox, et al. in 2015, plastic bags and plastic utensils posed the greatest risk when consumed by seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals. Additionally, while in the environment, microplastics can absorb and concentrate chemicals from their surrounding environment, and those chemicals can be toxic to animals that ingest them.
Research suggests that certain animals are as likely to become entangled in plastic as they are to ingest it, and entanglement can be more lethal. Fishing-related gear, balloons and plastic bags posed the greatest risk of entangling animals, according to Wilcox, et al.’s research. In fact, many of our Zoo’s American white pelicans are rescued animals that were entangled in plastic (mostly fishing gear) and are unfit to be released into the wild.
Lastly, almost all plastic begins as fossil fuels and release heat-trapping gases at each stage of their lifecycle. In 2019, the production and incineration of plastic was estimated to emit more than 850 million metric tons of these heat-trapping gases, the equivalent of emissions from 189 500MW coal power plants, according to the Center for International Environmental Law. The accumulation of these gases in the atmosphere acts like a blanket that traps heat around the world, disrupting the climate. And according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, climate change is a threat to 1,688 species globally.
Our efforts to reduce plastic include:
-Refraining from handing out plastic straws or plastic shopping bags
-Providing foodware that is compostable and collecting compost on our campus
-Providing water bottle filling stations
-Selling reusable items (like reusable bags, straws and bottles) in our gift shops
Note: some of our products have changed in order to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, our teen volunteers started the #byetobags program in 2016 to educate Zoo guests and people in our community about the harms of plastic pollution and encourage them to switch to reusable shopping bags. (Although some grocery stores aren’t permitting reusable bags due to COVID-19, you can ask for items to be placed back into your cart, and then you can bag your items at your vehicle.)
We continue to look for ways to grow our efforts. This year, we are sponsoring and participating in the Plastic Free July EcoChallenge. We have created a team, “Saint Louis Zoo,” and are inviting you to join us at plasticfree.ecochallenge.org/dashboards/teams/saint-louis-zoo. As a member of our team, you will be able to browse and sign up for actions to reduce your use of plastic, earn points for completing tasks, and share your progress with and see the progress of our team members.
Thank you for joining us in our efforts to reduce plastic use and help protect animals.
It's a Boy!
For the first time in 27 years, a male Asian elephant was born at the Saint Louis Zoo! We are excited to announce that Asian elephant Rani gave birth to a baby boy at 1:55 p.m. today, Monday, July 6. The Zoo’s bull elephant, 27-year-old Raja, is the father and first Asian elephant ever born at the Zoo in 1992. This calf is his fifth offspring and first son. Mother and baby are doing well and bonding off public view. A debut date has not been set. More info: stlzoo.org/about/contact/pressroom/pressreleases/its-a-boy-asian-elephant-calf-born
Photos: Josh-Sydney-Smith and Madi Culbertson.