Meaningful Leadership Gift

The Saint Louis Zoo received a leadership gift from Michael and Quirsis Riney to name Michael and Quirsis Riney Primate Canopy Trails.

"We are deeply appreciative of the Rineys' charitable support, which will greatly impact both the animals in our care and the experiences of our guests," said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO, Saint Louis Zoo. "This is an amazing and unique exhibit that will help us connect people to animals like never before."

This exhibit was made possible by the generosity of many donors, including a meaningful leadership gift from Michael and Quirsis Riney.

Primate Canopy Trails

Primate Canopy Trails, under construction since late 2019, is a 35,000-square-foot outdoor expansion connected to the Primate House. The $13 million exhibit consists of eight new outdoor homes for primates — lemurs, Old World monkeys and New World monkeys.

The first-of-its-kind primate habitat and guest experience includes climbing structures that allow guests to explore the forest canopy next to the animals, while learning through play and exploration about conservation challenges primates are facing in the wild — and discovering solutions to help.

Guest Information

Admission to the exhibit is free. Click here for info on hours.

(Click to see full image and caption.)

Outdoor Habitats

At Primate Canopy Trails, Zoo guests take a journey from the forest floor, through a see-through tunnel, and up into the treetops on an elevated boardwalk to see monkeys and lemurs in their enriching and engaging state-of-the-art homes and play areas. Expansive climbing structures take guests through the animals' habitats, mimicking the life of a primate in the tree canopy of a forest.

The new exhibit allows the Zoo to improve animal care, health and well-being of primates by providing access to enriching outdoor habitats, sunlight and fresh air. The 1925 Primate House, which was renovated in 1977 and will continue to be used, had few outdoor habitats available for use by only some of the species over the years. Many of the primates living at the Primate House have never had access to the outdoors until now.

"Being outside is critical for primates' well-being, and this new habitat is a demonstration of the Zoo's commitment to providing quality animal care," says Heidi Hellmuth, Curator of Primates, Saint Louis Zoo.

Exploring the Canopy

Overhead mesh tunnels connected to the Primate House lead to tall, preexisting live trees and other outdoor habitats with spaces for the animals to climb and perch. These "sky trail" tunnels have a flexible design that allow animals to explore different habitats at different times, boosting the stimulation in their daily lives. On any given day, a group of primates could be in a wide variety of habitats. The exhibit was designed for an estimated 70 different habitat combinations for the various groups of primates to enjoy. The new exhibit also includes a private, climate-controlled Primate Care Center, where the animal care team can provide exceptional care for the animals.


Approximately 40 primates representing 14 species will utilize Primate Canopy Trails and the Primate House. The increased number, size and complexity of habitats allows the Zoo to increase its participation in cooperative conservation breeding programs, as the Zoo will be able to accommodate larger groups as the resident primate families grow

Animals that can be seen at Primate Canopy Trails and the Primate House include some endangered and critically endangered species.

Primates Get a First Look at the Habitat

Below are videos of a few of the primates discovering their new habitat for the first time: 

  Francois langurs exploring
Francois langurs exploring
  Discovering the sky trails
Discovering the sky trails
  Enjoying the vegetation
Enjoying the vegetation

Primate House

Built in 1925, the Primate House is home to over 40 primates representing 14 different species. Although the indoor habitats were renovated in 1977 and will continue to be used, there are only six outdoor habitats currently available for use by lemurs, sifaka and saki monkeys alone. Many species have no access to the outdoors because the animals are too small or too strong for the existing mesh of the outdoor habitats.

The increased number, size and complexity of habitats also will allow the Zoo to increase its participation in cooperative breeding programs, as the Zoo will be able to accommodate larger groups as the primate families grow. 

Generous Donors

This exhibit is made possible by the generosity of many donors, including meaningful leadership contributions from the Michael and Quirsis Riney Family Foundation, the Estate of Rudolph L. Wise, and the Dana Brown Charitable Trust.

Leader in Primate Care

"One thing all our primates have in common is their love of the canopies and habitats situated high in the trees," says Hellmuth. "However, many primates worldwide are threatened with extinction and have declining populations, mostly due to extensive habitat loss, including forests."

The Zoo is a leader in primate care and conservation. Known for its expertise and experience, the Primate Team is effective and creative at managing groups of primates at the Zoo. The Zoo also participates in Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plans for all of the primate species at the Zoo and is a leader in primate conservation work in the wild through the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute.

Support Primate Canopy Trails

To learn more about this project, make a charitable gift to support this effort, or request more information about commemorative gift opportunities, please contact the Development Office at (314) 646-4691.