St. Louis Trip, Day 2 - Saturday, July 25, 2015
It's high time I finish my series on our St. Louis trip last summer. Our next stop after visiting Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery was the St. Louis Zoo. We had heard it was very impressive, and since my sister loves animals, we really wanted to see it. The only problem? Everyone else in the city seemed to want to visit the zoo! There was a long line of cars waiting to find parking.
After spending 20 minutes trying to find parking, we were almost discouraged enough to head back to our dorms, as we had to be at Webster University at 4:30 p.m. for chess game analysis. But, we finally found a spot and headed into the zoo at 1:40, giving ourselves 2 hours before we had to leave and find our way back.
Admission was free and there were people *everywhere*! Inside the main building were gift shops, but we did not have time to explore them. Outside there were vendors, artists, a carousel, and a train, which adults and children alike could take a ride on. It was very hot. There were large fans here and there misting cold water for visitors to cool off.
Above are flamingos, pelicans, East African crowned cranes, and an ostrich. As part of its animal enrichment program, the St. Louis Zoo avoids cages and the like as much as possible, opting instead for natural barriers and moats to separate the animals. Some compatible animals from similar habitats (like ostriches and giraffes) live together.
Some of the first animals we saw were the primates. The gorillas (not shown) were eating a lunch of what looked like lettuce or cabbage. Perhaps the funnest creatures to watch and photograph in the whole zoo were the prairie dogs.
The Cypress Swamp is housed by the oldest structure of the St. Louis Zoo. Known as the 1904 Flight Cage, it was built by the Smithsonian Institution--at a cost of $17,500--to house the U.S. Bird Exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World's Fair). At the time, it was the largest bird cage ever built. The Smithsonian had intended to move the cage to the Washington zoo following the exposition, but the City of St. Louis bought it instead, for only $3,500.
My great grandpa, Harry MacArthur, told stories of selling popcorn at the World's Fair. He was eight years old, and never forgot that exciting event. We wonder if he took the time to see the Flight Cage.
There were all sorts of deer, gazelles, and other prey animals. The wild pigs were all sleeping/lounging around. I guess they figured it was too hot to do anything else.
We didn't see very many of the big cats, though we did spy one lioness in a tree. The lions and other cats seemed to be under more security than other animals--in pits with moats surrounding. I guess it would be pretty bad if any of them escaped, so the security precautions are appreciated--by other animals and humans alike!
The only animals that really seemed caged were the outdoor lemurs. Some of them were sleeping--and the ring-tailed lemurs reminded me of raccoons.
Side-by-side are the Primate House and the Herpetarium. The primate house had more lemurs...and primates. I thought the herpetarium was a lot more interesting. If you saw the creatures there in your dreams, you'd be having nightmares. The Haitian giant anole on the left (moulting!) is one of the friendlier-looking creatures there. On the right is a green anaconda.
You could also meet a reticulated python, various lizards and turtles, a boa constrictor, tomistoma, iguana, pitviper, and other fascinating creatures.
By the time we got through the herpetarium, time was short, so we walked as quickly as we could (considering the foot traffic), glancing at the hippopotamuses, hyenas, fish, and other remaining creatures, and briefly greeting an elephant before leaving.
We made it to our van on schedule, and headed back to our dorms. I'd definitely recommend a more leisurely schedule, and a less hot and busy day to other prospective zoo-goers. But I was glad we stopped. It's a very nice zoo, and we made the most of our two hours!
Linking with Saturday's Critters.