Saint Louis Zoo

(Via Flikr/Derringsdo)

Who has the best zoo?

“We always say that the best zoo is the accredited zoo closest to where you live,” said Saint Louis Zoo CEO and president Jeffrey Bonner. “I think, for me at least, it’s the quality of the exhibits, the quality of the visitor experience and, of course, underpinning that is the conservation programs, the research programs, the education programs. I happen to think that our zoo is the best in terms of the visitor experience.”

He’s not alone.

You may have stayed away from the Zoo over the Fourth of July weekend, because of the festivities in  Forest Park. But you have plenty of time to get there this summer. As you make your plans, here are a few things about our Zoo that might surprise you.

For example, did you know the Zoo studied camels in Kenya this year to evaluate their milk as a human beverage? Or that it documented the number of endangered Humboldt penguins in Punta San Juan, Peru?

Lincoln Brower

The City of St. Louis and several partners are launching a project to help monarch butterflies.

It involves encouraging area residents to plant milkweeds -- a plant with large fruit pods that release fluffy seeds in the fall.

The Saint Louis Zoo is one of the partners in the “Milkweeds for Monarchs” initiative, along with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The zoo's curator of invertebrates, Edward Spevak, says milkweeds are critical to the monarch’s survival.

Roger Brandt/Saint Louis Zoo

A sea lion has died at the St. Louis Zoo.

“Bennie,” as he was known, was born at the zoo in 2002 and would have been 12 years old in June.

The 500 pound sea lion was one of the stars of the zoo’s sea lion show. But he stopped performing two weeks ago and had been under veterinary care.

The zoo says a necropsy will be performed by its pathologist, but it will take several weeks for the zoo to get the lab results needed to determine the cause of death.

(Saint Louis Zoo)

The Saint Louis Zoo is forging ahead with building a new, state-of-the-art polar bear exhibit.

The 40,000-square-foot McDonnell Polar Bear Point will more than double the zoo’s previous polar bear habitat, which closed in 2009.

Features of the exhibit will include:

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