St. Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo, also known as the Saint Louis Zoological Park, was established in 1910, making it one of the oldest zoos in the United States.

The zoo started out as the Flight Cage for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at the 1904 World’s Fair. It was intended to be a temporary exhibit. The original plan was to move the Flight Cage to the National Zoo in Washington D.C. However, due to its popularity, St. Louisans rallied to keep the Flight Cage, and the City purchased it for just $3,500. This became the motivation to develop a full zoo. St. Louis Zoo became the first municipally-supported zoo in the world. The zoo is still supported by its community today.


The zoo was one of the first zoos in the world to have an aviary. The park also had a wide range of animals such as elephants, lions, and bears, but also had a focus on education and conservation. The first elephant, Miss Jim, was purchased in 1916 with pennies donated by St. Louis schoolchildren. The Saint Louis Zoo was one of the first to build open, moated enclosures rather than barred cages. People loved seeing animals this way. This method of exhibition meant less animals could be showcased due to the extra space needed, but the animals were able to live in a habitat more like the wild.

Over the years, the St. Louis Zoo has expanded and improved its facilities, and it has become one of the most respected zoos in the world. Today, it is home to over 16,000 animals, representing more than 600 species from around the world. It’s known for its state-of-the-art animal habitats, commitment to conservation, and wide range of educational programs for visitors of all ages. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and it also operates a number of research and conservation programs in the field. 

Unsurprisingly, the St. Louis Zoo is a popular tourist destination, attracting over 3 million visitors annually. It is also one of the few free zoos in the United States, which makes it accessible to everyone and has helped to make it one of the most beloved cultural institutions in the City of St. Louis.

Images Courtesy of the Saint Louis Zoo

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