One of the most important goals of the Saint Louis Zoo is to educate its visitors. To that end, increasing numbers of exhibits tell stories about whole bio-communities rather than of a single featured resident, and in the process, Zoo staff members have become "mixologists" of a sort.
Since all living organisms exist in communities made up of different plants and animals, modern zoo mangers are increasingly combining species to create a more realistic, natural experience for their animals and a more exciting one for zoo visitors.
Mixed-species exhibits provide an interactive and dynamic experience for the animals, visitors and Zoo staff. The animals are provided with enrichment through species interactions. Visitors learn from observing these interactions and enjoy increased activity levels in the exhibits. Zoo staff is challenged with team management of exhibits which may include mammals, birds, reptiles and plant life.
In the Red Rocks area, the Zoo staff plan each year which exhibits will be "mixed." In planning each mixed exhibit, staff consider the native region and habitat of the selected species, the temperament of the mammal and bird species chosen, an the exhibit's characteristics such as size, perimeter height and amount of foliage. For example, our banteng herd have shared space with the Reeve's muntjac, a small Asian deer. Bongos and yellow-backed duikers, both forest antelope from Central Africa, have also been exhibited together.