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St. Louis Zoo lays out plans for improvement

New habitat for sea lions

By Adam Allington, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Zoo has announced details of a 25-year plan to improve the free park.

On the table are plans to upgrade physical infrastructure as well as expand habitat and exhibit space.

Zoo President and CEO Jeffery Bonner says the improvements will cost millions and take years to accomplish, but are all realistic goals.

"We have very little in the way of wishes or dreams, what we have are things that we absolutely must do. So in the end, we feel that everything that made it into the plan is something that we absolutely must accomplish," says Bonner.

The plan includes habitat expansion for the Asian elephants, as well improvements to the Malayan sun bear, polar bear and grizzly bear exhibits.

Bonner says plans are also being considered to add underwater viewing to the popular sea lion exhibit, which draws a big crowd at feeding time.

"Our current sea lion arena was actually built for 'lion' lions, not sea lions. So it wasn't a purpose-built facility and we would just love to have a facility that was uniquely designed for the unique needs of California sea lions."

Bonner says the zoo hopes to make most of the exhibit and facilities upgrades sometime over the next five to ten years.

The plans also include goals such as expanding conservation research, and growing the zoo's $27-million endowment.

The zoo has historically funded all of its capital improvements through private dollars.

Administrators say there are no plans to start charging admission.

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