May 22, 2014

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703


River's Edge at the Saint Louis Zoo is about to get even wilder with the addition of three new animal habitats opening on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Purina Painted Dog Preserve will feature a species that hasn't been seen at the Zoo since the 1950s—the painted dog, or African wild dog. Sun Bear Forest and Andean Bear Range will be the new homes for Malayan sun bears and Andean bears, which have moved from the Zoo's historic Bear Bluffs.

"The expansion of River's Edge was made possible by The Living Promise Campaign through charitable gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations," said Dr. Jeffrey Bonner, Dana Brown President and CEO at the Saint Louis Zoo. "We are especially pleased to announce a gift of $1.2 million from Nestlé Purina PetCare Company for our painted dog habitat, the Purina Painted Dog Preserve. The generosity of Purina and all our donors help the Zoo provide a wonderful new home for this and other endangered species and to continue the research and field work we have been doing to help them survive in the wild."

Completed in 2002, the 10-acre River's Edge is an immersion exhibit with a meandering trail through the continents of South America, Africa, Asia and North America. The new exhibits have been under construction since 2012 and will occupy previously unutilized space in the area between the anteater and capybara, black rhinoceros and elephant habitats. The animals will have large areas with natural substrates, numerous plants similar to those found in their native habitats and enriching areas for climbing, nest-building, swimming, chasing and exploring. The Zoo's visitors will get an up-close view of the animals.

Purina Painted Dog Preserve

Painted dogs, also known as African wild dogs or Cape hunting dogs, are the largest African canid. With their beautifully mottled coats of brown, black, white, red and yellow, these social pack animals are among the most endangered canids in the world. Once common in Africa, the dogs number fewer than 3,000 in the wild today. The Zoo's pack includes three females Maize, Betty and Sienna, and two, 4-month-old puppies.

The 5,500-square-foot habitat includes the Savannah Shade Structure viewing area, which extends into the dogs' habitat and provides a 270-degree view through eight-foot-tall glass panels. Here, visitors can gain an exceptional perspective on the dogs' active social lives, including their vocalizing, playing and chasing each other in the open grassy spaces, splashing in the stream, digging in the sand pile or taking a rest in a heated den.

"Nestlé Purina PetCare Company is thrilled to make this contribution to the Saint Louis Zoo's Living Promise Campaign," said Nestlé Purina President and CEO Pat McGinnis. "Purina has a long-standing passion for pets and also understands the importance of having fun, educational and affordable family friendly attractions, like the Zoo and our very own Purina Farms, in the St. Louis area. Providing support for the Zoo's development of a native habitat for the endangered painted dog is a great partnership opportunity for Purina."

Andean Bear Range

Andean bears are a little known, endangered species that live in the cloud forests of the Andean mountains of South America. Their common name, spectacled bear, comes from the distinctive white circles around their eyes that often resemble a pair of spectacles.

The Zoo's Andean bear pair, Poncho and Maria, ages 21 and 24, love to climb high in the trees to rest, eat and sun themselves during the day. Their new habitat, which is 7,000 square feet and double the size of their previous exhibit in Bear Bluffs, provides natural deadfall and manmade trees to encourage the bears to climb. On the ground, they have grass for digging and a heated den. Andean bears also enjoy water, so their new home features a waterfall with a stream that runs the entire length of their habitat. At the two large viewing areas, visitors can see the bears swimming underwater.

Sun Bear Forest

The Malayan sun bear is the smallest bear species in the world—and one of the most endangered bears surviving in the wild. Native to the rainforests of Southern China, eastern India and Indonesia, they get their name from the yellowish crescent that radiates from their chest. The Zoo's sun bear pair, a male named Rimba, age 16, and a female named Miskin, age 22, came to the Zoo from Borneo in 2000, after they were captured by loggers who were clearing the rain forests.

Since they spend most of their lives in trees, the bears' new home, which is 3,700 square feet and one and a half times larger than their previous exhibit, features plenty of tall trees in which to climb, play and rest. When they are ready to descend to the ground, the bears can enjoy the varied terrain or spend time splashing in their waterfall, stream and pool. Their new habitat also includes a pile of logs for zookeepers to hide enrichment treats for the bears to find.

Care Center Facility

A new 4,200-square-foot behind-the-scenes facility, the Andean Bear, Sun Bear and Painted Dog Care Center, will help zookeepers provide the animals with excellent care. The facility features separate, off-exhibit dens for each species, a keeper workspace, mechanical rooms, an animal food prep kitchen and birthing/maternity dens. The Care Center's Keeper Viewing Alcove will allow zookeepers to interact with the painted dogs through a mesh panel.

Species Survival Plans

Andean bears, painted dogs and Malayan sun bears are all at risk for extinction. The Saint Louis Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plans for Andean bears and painted dogs. These cooperative breeding programs feature a number of zoos working together to ensure the survival of a species.

"The new habitats were designed to provide an enriching and spacious home for the animals to explore," said Steve Bircher, Curator of Mammals/Carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo. "But we also hope our guests will take home the message of how they can help protect endangered animals in their native habitats of the cloud forests, jungles and savannahs."

Zoo Hours & Information

The Zoo is currently open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 22. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, May 23 through September 1, the Zoo is open extended hours from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. for Prairie Farms Summer Zoo Weekends. Weekday summer hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

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In addition to giving the naming gift for Purina Painted Dog Preserve, Purina is the sponsor of the three River's Edge Expansion exhibits. Purina will be on site for Members' Day on Friday, June 6—an opportunity for Zoo Members to preview the exhibit before it opens to the public—and on Saturday, June 7, when the new exhibits are open to the public. On these days, Purina will offer a kids' activity and information about their products and services.

About the Saint Louis Zoo
Named America's #1 Zoo by Zagat Survey and Parenting Magazine, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, it attracts about 3,000,000 visitors a year.

About Nestlé Purina PetCare Company
Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., the world's largest food company.