The Zoo is open!
All guests, including Zoo members, must now reserve free, timed tickets prior to visiting.
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.
February 26, 2021
Polar Bear Day
In honor of International Polar Bear Day tomorrow, February 27, follow along today for a special #PolarBearDay #KeeperTakeover! Plus, join us tomorrow at camp.stlzoo.org for a special video from the Carnivore Care Team. They will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about polar bears and share what it’s like to work with our polar bear, Kali.
Photos courtesy of Carnivore Care Team and Megan Turner
Polar bears are the only bear species to be considered marine mammals. They spend most of their lives on the sea ice, depending on the ocean for their food and habitat. Ringed seals and bearded seals are the polar bear’s main prey. With their amazing sense of smell, polar bears can locate seal breathing holes in the ice, then wait patiently until a seal comes up for air before ambushing it! Polar bears can even detect a seal in the water beneath several feet of snow. Polar bears are expert swimmers with their large paddle-like webbed paws and streamlined bodies and can swim very long distances. Learn more about how the Saint Louis Zoo is helping polar bears at stlzoo.org/conservation/wildcare-institute/conservationprograms – Carrie, Carnivore Keeper #PolarBearDay #KeeperTakeover
Photos: Roger Brandt
Kali is very intelligent, and we are constantly coming up with new ways to stimulate his mind while allowing him to use his range of natural behaviors. This is what we call enrichment! Kali’s enrichment is expansive, and he gets multiple types in a day. He gets toys, new smells, appropriate challenges, and tree branches, just to name a few! Have you ever seen Kali pounce on one of his large toys? He would use that same behavior if he were to hunt for seals. Next time you are at the Zoo, be sure to come say “Hi!” to Kali and see if you can guess what enrichment items are in his habitat. – Jackie, Carnivore Keeper #PolarBearDay #KeeperTakeover
Photos courtesy of Carnivore Care Team and Roger Brandt
Would you look at the size of that paw print? Just imagine having feet as big as dinner plates! Polar bears are the largest land carnivore and can range in size from 350 to 1,500 pounds. Males are 40 percent larger than females. Our polar bear, Kali (pronounced “Cully” in Inupiaq), currently weighs 1,300 pounds and is 10 feet tall when he stands up. That’s the same height as a basketball hoop! – Travis, Carnivore Keeper #PolarBearDay #KeeperTakeover
Photos courtesy of Carnivore Care Team and Megan Turner
We celebrate International Polar Bear Day on February 27 because winter is the time of year when polar bear moms and cubs cozy up in their dens beneath the ice and snow in the Arctic. The Saint Louis Zoo supports Polar Bear International’s development of a new tool to help locate polar bear dens in order to make sure they are safe and undisturbed. Protecting moms and cubs helps to ensure a future for polar bears on our planet! Enjoy this “Flashback Friday” photo of our Kali bear when he was just a cub. –Carnivore Keeper, Carolyn #PolarBearDay #KeeperTakeover
Photo courtesy of John Gomes, Alaska Zoo
Being a polar bear keeper, and working with Kali bear, is exciting and very rewarding. Kali has nine keepers, and each keeper has a different relationship with him. Some would say Kali has a few favorite keepers as well! It is our job to understand and know his behavior, but while we are learning all about him, he is also learning all about us. Kali is a star across the St. Louis area, we love him, and we love that our guests love him too! If you see a keeper while visiting, don’t hesitate to chat, we love talking about our big guy! – Carnivore keeper, Mary
Photos: Megan Turner
February 25, 2021
Join us for Spring Break Camp: Super Senses!
February 24, 2021
Join Dr. Deem at 3 p.m. CST Feb. 25, for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums “Ask Me Anything” live on Twitter. She and other scientists will answer questions about reducing the risk of zoonotic diseases. #AskAZA #AMA @zoos_aquariums
By Sharon Deem, D.V.M, Ph.D., Diplomate American College of Zoological Medicine, Director of the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine
This Year of the Pandemic has been unrelentingly cruel, but there are a few things it wasn't: unexpected, unforeseen or a surprise.
It's been over a year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the United States. Since then, we've lost nearly 500,000 friends, family members and neighbors to this virus, with 28 million infections. Worldwide, the death count has reached 2.4 million.
As we line up for our vaccines with shaky smiles and lean toward "normalcy" again, we desperately want to file 2020 away in a distant memory box – but we should not. It's time to focus squarely on preventing the next devastating pandemic.
And there's one largely untapped opportunity with huge potential: innovative teamwork between animal experts at world-renowned zoos and aquariums, and human disease experts.
One Health Approach
About 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are shared between animals and people, including COVID-19 and other recent viral threats such as Ebola, SARS, MERS and H1N1. These threats are often caused by an expanding human population, pushing deeper into wilderness areas, slashing forests and sparking wildlife trade that helps to fuel disease spillover events and even pandemics.
One shield against pandemics is a One Health approach – a collaborative, multidisciplinary structure recognizing that the health of people, animals and our shared environments are connected.
And within One Health lies a vastly underused opportunity: for experts in human health to work alongside wildlife health and conservation veterinarians and other wildlife professionals to learn about, and prevent, such outbreaks.
Zoos and Aquariums are Key
Many of these animal health and conservation experts work for one of the 240 reputable zoos and aquariums in the U.S., a network that's one of the largest forces in conservation today.
Those premier facilities, which earn accreditation by meeting rigorous requirements for animal care and science, are much more than attractions. They employ highly specialized wildlife health experts, and together they invest nearly a quarter of a billion dollars annually for field conservation around the world.
Nearly every major U.S. city has at least one such facility. With a diverse group of professionals that includes biologists, veterinarians, animal welfare specialists, and educators, they're perfectly positioned to advance One Health strategies locally, regionally and nationally.
In partnership with local universities and medical centers, these zoo experts already serve as key members of One Health teams working to prevent health crises by monitoring wildlife health, responding to outbreaks, and relocating and reintroducing endangered wildlife.
Watchful Sentinels Against Disease
It's been two decades since zoos were first enlisted to monitor the spread of a cross-species disease, the West Nile virus. Then in 2015, they were watchful sentinels against the deadly "bird flu."
And today, a world away in places such as Kenya, Ecuador and Madagascar, the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine researches and helps solve issues to keep domestic animals, wildlife and humans healthier. In Kenya, for example, ICM researchers identified why drinking raw camel milk can make people sick, then worked with local communities to prevent those illnesses.
Sharing Conservation Knowledge
Zoo and aquarium staff have something else, too: face time with the public, in a big way. In a typical year, more than 181 million people visit U.S. zoos and aquariums. That's a massive classroom to share important health and conservation knowledge.
Protecting People, Wildlife, Land and Water
The concept is simple: to protect people, we also must protect wildlife, our land and our water.
A stronger alliance among zoo and aquarium wildlife and veterinary experts, working side-by-side with human health professionals, is certain to bring innovation – and a resulting One Health framework in every city could become a critical line of defense against future pandemics.
This is a bold and exceptional opportunity — one we must not squander. It can help ensure that as we see the light at the end of this COVID-19 tunnel, it's not simply another viral train bearing down on a vulnerable world.
About Dr. Deem
As an epidemiologist and veterinarian, Dr. Sharon Deem has been on the front lines of infectious disease around the world. Dr. Deem specializes in One Health, the understanding that the health of people, animals, and the environment are inherently connected. She is DVM, Ph.D., Diplomate American College of Zoological Medicine, and Director of the Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine.