St. Louis Zoo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Zoo

Kali takes a swim at the Saint Louis Zoo.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County residents will decide in November whether to spend more tax money to bolster the St. Louis Zoo.

The proposal would help spruce up the world-class attraction and build a new breeding facility and potential adventure park in north St. Louis County. But backers will need to convince county voters to raise the sales tax when some surrounding areas don’t directly contribute to the zoo.

President Donald Trump arrives at St. Louis Lambert International Airport to attend a fundraiser for GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Hawley.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

This week’s Politically Speaking zeroes in on how President Donald Trump will affect Missouri’s election cycle — particularly U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election bid against Attorney General Josh Hawley.

On the surface, Trump should benefit Hawley — especially because the GOP chief executive won Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points in 2016. Missouri’s public opinion polls show his approval ratings hovering around 50 percent. But Trump has faced a torrent of controversy this week with the Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen court proceedings.

Zoo staff decided to bottle-feed the baby lemur after observing that her mother was unable to nurse her.
Ethan Riepl | St. Louis Zoo

A new, tiny resident will now greet visitors to the St. Louis Zoo Primate House.

Princess Buttercup, a female mongoose lemur, is the first of her species to be born and reared successfully at the zoo. The critically endangered lemur species, which is found only on Madagascar, is the focus of a national cooperative breeding program intended to build a healthy population in captivity.

Michael Dawson of the St. Louis Zoo shows an American toad to a group of fourth-graders from Community School on May 4, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Armed with clipboards and binoculars, students from the St. Louis area got a chance to explore nearby forests, fields and ponds, all while cataloging local wildlife.

Local naturalists and wildlife experts helped guide small groups of students as part of the first BioBlitz at Principia School in Town and Country on Friday. The BioBlitz, which happens each year in communities across the U.S., is an effort to record plants and animals, while also helping “citizen scientists” feel more connected to nature.


Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-University City
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Councilwoman Hazel Erby to the program.

The University City Democrat represents the council’s 1st District, which takes in a number of municipalities in central and north St. Louis County. Erby represents most of Ferguson, and she was a key figure in the aftermath of the shooting death Michael Brown in that city in 2014.

A child looks at one of two grizzly bear cubs at the St. Louis Zoo in September 2017.
File photo I David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Members of the St. Louis County Council are placing an one-eighth of one cent sales tax on the November ballot to benefit the St. Louis Zoo.

While proponents of the measure believe it could enliven a part of the county that’s struggled economically, others believe it places too much of a burden on residents already shelling out property taxes to fund the zoo.

Kali takes a swim at the Saint Louis Zoo.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is close to placing a sales tax hike on the November ballot to pay for improvements for the St. Louis Zoo.

While council members appear to want to let the voters decide, the one-eighth of one cent sales tax could face sharp questions later this year — especially since only St. Louis and St. Louis County directly pay for the attraction.

Two grizzly bear cubs arrived at the St. Louis Zoo in the summer of 2017.
File photo I David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County voters may be asked to put more tax money into improving the St. Louis Zoo.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray introduced a 1/8th of one cent sales tax increase at Tuesday’s council meeting. If County Council members put it on the ballot, St. Louis County voters would decide on the measure on Nov. 6. The tax would add about 12 cents to a $100 purchase.

A child looks at one of two grizzly bear cubs at the St. Louis Zoo in September 2017.
File photo I David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with additional information — The St. Louis Zoo Association is buying a 425-acre complex in north St. Louis County to breed endangered and at-risk animals, officials announced today.

The zoo is obtaining the land from the United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 for $7.1 million. The purchase is funded through donations from two undisclosed philanthropists.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ $10-an-hour minimum wage is a thing of the past. So is a Missouri resident’s ability to sue when he or she thinks age or race was part of the reason for being fired.

That’s because several new laws have taken effect as of Monday.

Kali takes a swim at the Saint Louis Zoo.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The fate of a sales tax hike to support the Saint Louis Zoo will be in voters’ hands, as Gov. Eric Greitens signed a bill into law Monday.

MoBikeFed | Flickr

Missouri lawmakers solved the puzzle over federally mandated IDs on Thursday night, sending Republican Gov. Eric Greitens a bill that would ease travelers’ and military members’ worries come January.

It was one of several pieces of legislation that reached the finish line ahead of the 6 p.m. Friday deadline for the 2017 session. Here’s a look at Thursday’s action:

People mill in the hallway leading to the Missouri Senate chamber.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri legislators began churning through bills Thursday, including one now headed to Gov. Eric Greitens that bans forcing public works projects to use union workers.

Not everything is a done deal, as bills that would establish education savings accounts for certain students and allow a vote on increasing the St. Louis Zoo sales tax still need to be heard by the House.

Stephanie Richmond / St. Louis Zoo

Under a bill that passed the Missouri House on Tuesday, voters in St. Louis and St. Louis County will be able to decide whether to further fund the city's zoo via a sales tax increase.

But, originally, the tax burden — an increase of one-eighth of 1 percent — would have been shared by surrounding counties as well. That option was stripped in both House Bill 935 and Senate Bill 49 for simplicity's sake, according to legislators.

A comparison of improved crosswalks and additional sidewalks before and after the project on Government and Wells Drives.
Provided | Forest Park Forever

Another long-awaited construction project is coming to Forest Park.

The southwest entrance to the park off Skinker Boulevard is closing Wednesday for six months so workers can rebuild the sections of Government Drive and Wells Drive leading up to the St. Louis Zoo’s paid parking lots.

Charlie Hoessle helped start the St. Louis Zoo's education department in the 1960s.
Courtesy of St. Louis Zoo

For St. Louisans of a certain age, the statue outside the herpetarium at the St. Louis Zoo depicts a familiar figure: Charles H. Hoessle — better known as “Charlie” — who taught them about snakes and exotic reptiles when they were schoolchildren in the 1960s.

Hoessle worked for the zoo for 40 years. He helped start the zoo's education department in 1964 and hosted the weekly “Saint Louis Zoo Show’’ on local TV from 1968 to 1978.

Provided by Missouri Department of Conservation

For five years, state officials and researchers have been trying to bring back an endangered beetle species that disappeared in Missouri more than 40 years ago. Now, they're counting the bugs to see if there's enough of them for a sustained population. 

Ray Meibaum

Anyone who has watched a lot of Saturday morning television likely has seen Taz, the voracious Tasmanian devil of Looney Tunes fame, a loud and voracious presence.

While Taz thrives in the cartoon, in the wild the species isn’t doing so well. About 20 years ago, a mysterious illness caused its population to dive.

Conservationists are scrambling to save the animals and educate the public about them. As part of that effort, Yindi and Jannali, two female Tasmanian devils, recently arrived at the St. Louis Zoo, where researchers are studying how they adjust to life in captivity.

Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

Scientists say frogs are one of the first "canaries in the coal mine" for climate change. That’s because they absorb a lot of what’s in the environment through their skin.

Grant's Farm bridge with sign thanking attendees for visiting
William K. Busch Brewing Company

Updated 1:00 p.m. March 4 with Zoo's offer withdrawn:

The St. Louis Zoo’s plan to buy Grant’s Farm from a Busch family trust has fallen through. In a statement the Zoo says it’s withdrawn its conditional offer of about $30 million citing a legal dispute among the six heirs of the late beer baron Gussie Busch. Four of the six siblings have wanted to release the land from the trust, but Billy Busch is fighting to keep it in the family.  Earlier this week, he unveiled a five-year plan to acquire and develop the family-attraction with a small theater, and brewery.  A St. Louis Circuit Court hearing regarding the sale is scheduled for March 28.

Original article March 2:

A prominent member of the Busch family is providing more details about his plans for Grant's Farm. Billy Busch is trying to acquire the St. Louis County attraction and has unveiled a five-year business plan that calls for a small theater, brewery and continued free admission.

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