Our Living Promise...

"As we planned for our future, we made a number of promises: a promise to always care deeply for animals and the natural world; a promise to remain accessible to all visitors; and a promise to steward our resources carefully. These are the living promises, and they will guide us as we share our Zoo for future generations." Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President & CEO, Saint Louis Zoo

St. Louis has cherished its world-class Saint Louis Zoo for over 100 years. We're justifiably proud of the Zoo's history and its undeniable quality. And we're equally dedicated to its future.

As we embarked on our next 100 years, we wanted to ensure our prominence among America's zoological treasures. Our goals were to provide the highest standards of animal care; to create modern, dynamic exhibits; to enhance the nation's best visitor experience; to continue leading in wildlife conservation; to strengthen our physical infrastructure; to augment our staffing; and to generate sufficient financial resources to make these goals achievable.

On June 3, 2010, the Zoo announced a multi-year effort, The Living Promise Campaign, to support the Zoo in four important areas: creating dynamic exhibits, enhancing the visitor experience, modernizing our facilities and endowing the Zoo’s future. We are pleased to report that thanks to the support of many generous donors throughout our community, The Living Promise Campaign secured more than $134 million in commitments—and surpassed the goal by 12%! Thanks to these special donors, together we were able to make good on these promises as we shape our Zoo for future generations. Thank you for helping the Saint Louis Zoo remain a free, world-class institution for generations to come.

We promised. You delivered.

Creating Dynamic Exhibits...

At its core, the Zoo experience celebrates the relationship between visitors and animals. The Saint Louis Zoo has always prided itself on the quality of its exhibits and its ability to bring people closer to the animal kingdom. Listed below are some of the new exhibits included in the campaign.

McDonnell Polar Bear Point - Completed in 2015

Zoo visitors won’t be the only ones to enjoy this exciting new habitat. Polar bears, which have become a conservation priority, will have new rocky landscapes to climb and explore and new pools in which to swim and dive. A walk-through cave will allow visitors to get up-close with their new polar pals. One end of the cave peers into the polar bear pool, allowing visitors to watch as the bears swim about, play with their favorite ball or simply float along. With underwater viewing for visitors, getting close to a 1,000 pound bear is an experience they won’t soon forget! The new exhibit will also allow the Zoo to relay facts about polar bears and the potential dangers they face.

Andean Bear Range - Completed in 2014

Andean bears are a little known, endangered species that live in the cloud forests of South America’s Andean mountains. Formerly known as spectacled bears because the distinctive markings on their faces make them look like they are wearing glasses, our Andean bears enjoy climbing trees, digging in sand and swimming in the stream that runs through their new home in River’s Edge.

Purina Painted Dog Preserve - Completed in 2014

Painted dogs are one of the most endangered carnivore species in Africa, as well as one of the least known and understood. This habitat with its varied terrain including grassy open spaces, a termite mound, and a pool and stream gives our painted dogs ample room to run and play.

Robert & Kathy William Sun Bear Forest - Completed in 2014

Malayan sun bears are found in the tropical rain forests of Asia where they like to climb and make their homes in the trees. These smallest of bears use every level of their spacious new habitat, which includes trees and climbing structures, as well as a rushing stream and lush vegetation.

Grizzly Ridge - To open in 2017

For the first time at the Zoo, visitors will be able to walk up and view grizzly bears as they splash about in the water with our new floor-to-ceiling viewing area. The cave and grotto will allow visitors to view animal enrichment through a mesh panel. A gigantic glass wall will let visitors get closer than ever to the bears as they play with their favorite ball, take a refreshing dip or even catch their food.

Sea Lion Sound - Completed in 2012

Sea Lion Sound combined the Zoo's popular Sea Lion Basin with the popular Sea Lion Show in one area. For the first time in North America, visitors can walk through an underwater tunnel into the sea lions' habitat, with sea lions swimming all around them! A landscape inspired by the Pacific Northwest coast draws visitors into several viewing areas. The ability to see our sea lions so closely, interact with them and learn about them will give our visitors the opportunity to form a connection and a new understanding of marine mammals and the need for their conservation.

Elephant Woods - Completed in 2011

With a fourth outdoor habitat in River’s Edge, our Asian elephants have a new natural environment to explore, a hilly terrain and a landscape in which to forage for shrubs. This new area gives the zookeepers more options as they care for the Zoo’s growing multi-generational elephant family. Is it visible from the River’s Edge trail? No, it was designed to be a private area for the elephants, although it may be possible for visitors occasionally to see elephants enjoying their habitat from the Emerson Zooline Railroad. The Saint Louis Zoo’s vision includes elephants in the world’s future forever, both in zoos and in the wild.

Improving Visitor Experiences...

Wells Fargo South Arrival Experience - Completed in 2010

Changes to the Zoo’s south entrance have improved vehicle traffic, the safety of pedestrians and the overall aesthetic experience as visitors begin their day at the Zoo. A naturalistic pedestrian bridge, handsome sculptures of African wildlife, greenery, rock outcroppings, footpaths, waterfalls and pools are among the new additions.

North Arrival Experience: The Living World - Completed in 2015

This renovation included the new Monsanto Education Gallery, Tree Top Shop, remodeling of the Painted Giraffe Café (now Cafe Kudu) and a new Welcome Area.

Emerson Zooline Railroad - completed 2010

The Zoo’s popular miniature train has been named Emerson Zooline Railroad. The train has transported more than 34 million visitors through the years.

Enhancing Retail Zones

Merchandising and food service zones will be more effectively organized. New kiosks, plants, benches and decorations will enhance the retail zones. Lakeside Café has undergone a makeover.

Updating Zoo Facilities...

Myron Glassberg Family Maintenance Facility - completed 2011

A new facility houses the Facilities Management shops and storage areas for all trades which include: electrical, plumbing, HVAC, carpentry, painting, welding, special construction and masonry, site work, equipment operation and repair, horticulture and grounds. The Information Technology department is also located there. The new building replaced a structure that was built in the 1950s, and a new recycling center and covered storage shed has been added. This facility was dedicated in 2011.

Peabody Hall - Completed in 2010

The original Elephant House, which kept such celebrities as Miss Jim (the Zoo's first elephant), was fully renovated to become an exhibition and rental hall. Its first exhibit, Zootennial presented by First Bank, featured a walk-through timeline of the Zoo's first 100 years. Currently Peabody Hall houses Inspired by Nature, a collection of wildlife art by Robert Bateman.


The Zoo must address issues of electricity, water, sewer and natural gas. Also included are upgrades to fire detection, surveillance systems, communications and information systems. Other projects include replacing mechanical systems, wood floors, carpets, ceramic tiles, exhibit view rails, stairs, walls, masonry steps, benches and roofs. Updated restrooms and efficient plumbing rank among our most pressing needs.

Growing Our Endowment...

A healthy endowment ensures our financial well-being in the future. It creates a permanent, reliable source of income that allows us to withstand economic downturns and to hedge against inflation. Only recently did we embrace the importance of a strong endowment to the long-term future of the Zoo. Now it is an ongoing endeavor, and many individuals, families, businesses and foundations have begun to assist in building this fund. Put simply, an endowment is a living promise to future generations.

Specific endowment opportunities begin at the $50,000 level for named endowed funds. For more information on how to support the endowment, please call the Development Office at (314) 646-4509.