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St. Louis Zoo

A three-week-old Mexican gray wolf pup is examined by scientists at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka. The pup was born from artificial insemination that used thawed semen.
Endangered Wolf Center

The future is looking brighter for the endangered Mexican gray wolf, as scientists have announced the birth of the first pup of the species to be born from artificial insemination that used frozen semen. 

There are 130 Mexican gray wolves that remain in the wild, largely in Arizona and New Mexico. Some live at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, where the new pup was born. In collaboration with the Saint Louis Zoo, scientists at the center have been collecting and freezing semen from endangered wolves for more than 20 years.

Zoo backers want to build a breeding facility and outdoor attraction offering a safari-like experience in Spanish Lake.
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.

Forest Park’s trolley service adds 2nd route

Apr 13, 2017
Forest Park Trolleys will operate on two routes beginning Saturday, April 13 2017.
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

Beginning Saturday, the Forest Park bus trolley will have two routes instead of one. The blue route and green route will serve attractions in the western and eastern parts of the park separately.

 

The two different routes will help with passenger convenience and easier navigation through the park, said Ray Friem, executive director of Metro Transit.

 

Asian elephants Sri and Jade in their enclosure at the Saint Louis Zoo in 2015.
Robin Winkelman | Saint Louis Zoo

On a normal day at the Saint Louis Zoo, Jade, a 9-year-old Asian elephant, might sleep, eat and play with her roommate Sri. But lately, her enclosure has gotten a little noisier, with sounds of elephants and other animals at the zoo.

 

The Zoo is recording sounds from some of its animals and playing the clips to them. The sounds help zoo employees see how the animals might normally act in the wild, zookeeper Liz Irwin said. In natural settings, the animals would be exposed to much more noise, whether it’s from the same species or different ones that would live close by.

The rusty patched bumble bee pollinates a flower.
Christy Stewart | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

An executive order from the Trump administration has frozen the process that, for the first time, would have given a bee species federal protection. 

The rusty-patched bumblebee would have been officially listed under the Endangered Species Act today. But, according to a notice from the Office of the Federal Register, the temporary freeze has delayed the effective date until March 21.

Singaporean filmmaker Mabel Gan has brought a version of the International Children's Film Festival she started in Singapore to St. Louis.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

There’s a new film festival in town, this time focused on films made by and for children. It is called the Big Eyes, Big Minds St. Louis International Children’s Film Festival and it is spearheaded by Singaporean filmmaker and festival director Mabel Gan.

“When I think of kids, I think of big eyes, big minds because they have bigger eyes and there is so much potential for their minds to grow,” Gan told St. Louis on the Air contributor Steve Potter on Monday’s program.

Ray Meibaum | Saint Louis Zoo

Scientists are urging an international organization to reclassify the cheetah as an endangered species, given the animal's falling numbers. About 7,100 cheetahs exist in the world, mostly in Africa. But that is less than 10 percent of the animal's historic population. 

In the journal Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, conservation experts reported that cheetahs are at greater risk of extinction than previously thought and are calling for increased protection of the species. The authors demand that the International Union for Conservation of Nature upgrade the cheetah's status from "vulnerable" to "endangered." It has been listed as vulnerable for three decades.

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.

A metallic green sweat bee sits in a case among other species at Associate Professor Gerardo Camilo's Saint Louis University lab.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In a community garden in central St. Louis, Saint Louis University biologist Gerardo Camilo walked methodically, scanning the plants while holding a butterfly net. Then, he stopped and stared intently at a patch of impatiens. 

He was pursuing a bee that was weaving in between the stems of the flowers. In one fell swoop, he swung the net down and clutched the net with a fist to trap the bee inside. He examined his captive with a quizzical expression. 

"Wow! I have never seen this in my life," Camilo said. "What the hell are you?"

Camilo and other scientists have found that bee populations are abundant and very diverse in urban areas, compared to rural areas, a finding that could help save endangered bees, important pollinators.

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.

An Earth Day guide to your backyard frogs

Apr 22, 2016
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.

Scott Schliebe | Wikimedia Commons

Climate change is causing the Earth to change in drastic ways. Global temperatures are rising, oceans are warming, ice sheets are shrinking and the implications are vast for flora and fauna.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”

The number of island foxes living on the northern Channel Islands in California were crashing before ecological efforts to save them began in the 1990s.
Tim Hauf | Flickr

A Saint Louis Zoo scientist is partly to thank for the recovery of three subspecies of foxes native to the Channel Islands off the coast of California.

Lazarus, a male Mexican wolf, at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka.
Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

Volunteer Lisa Houska is hunkered down next to a tall cyclone fence at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka. She’s peering at a hillside, observing a handsome pair of thick-furred Mexican wolves and their three pups that were born last year.

“We’re watching Sibi and Lazarus. This is their second breeding season,’’ Houska whispers.

For two hours on this unseasonably warm winter morning she’ll sit motionless, trying not to disturb the family. She’s hoping to witness another successful courtship between mom and dad.

Moose Winan, "Rolling Thunder & Hills," Ozark Mountains
Moose Winans | Flickr, Creative Commons | http://bit.ly/1YyPCLb

One word comes to mind when we think about the environmental news that’s been a conversation starter in St. Louis in 2015: landfills. Specifically, what is going on at the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills north St. Louis County. On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” St. Louis Public Radio’s science reporter Véronique LaCapra joined the show to discuss the evolution of the landfill situation and other big science, environmental and wildlife news of the year.

Some of the topics we discussed:

Grant's Farm - horses
Robert Duffy | St. Louis Public Radio

Plans for the St. Louis Zoo to buy Grant’s Farm are in legal limbo. Six heirs of August Anheuser "Gussie" Busch Jr. are in litigation over whether the property should be sold to the Zoo or Billy Busch. A hearing was held today - largely on the timing of how things will proceed.

Zoo says it wants to buy Grant's Farm, so does Billy Busch

Nov 18, 2015

The St. Louis Zoo is making plans to acquire the family attraction Grant’s Farm from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust.

The Armenian viper is one of 30 endangered species of amphibians and reptiles in Armenia. A new crowd-funding campaign aims to start a new conservation center to save them.
Ray Meibaum | Saint Louis Zoo

The country of Armenia may be getting its first conservation center for reptiles and amphibians thanks to a crowd-funding campaign launched by the Saint Louis Zoo.

Zoo Museum District lowers tax rate just a bit in coming year

Sep 28, 2015
Kali greets his visitors.
File photo I Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Update: This article has been updated to include a State Auditor's approved recoupment of $.0001 for each of the Zoo Museum District institutions.

The Zoo Museum District board is lowering tax rates for the coming year. This will amount to St. Louisans paying a fraction of a cent less per one hundred dollars of taxable property.

Images from zoo museum district entities
File photos and Wikipedia

The debate over charging nonresidents of St. Louis and St. Louis County for admission to the various free Zoo-Museum District institutions was reignited in St. Louis this month. “A small entrance fee of, say, $8 for non-city, non-county people would be fair and would help institutions terrifically,” said Ben Uchitelle, the former chairman of the board of the Zoo-Museum District.

Adult Ozark hellbenders can reach up to two feet in length, making them one of the largest salamanders in the world.
Ray Meibaum | Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo is sharing its expertise in matchmaking ... for salamanders.

It's part of the 7th Hellbender Symposium, which has drawn more than 100 participants from the Midwest, the Eastern U.S., Japan and China.

Jeffry Smith drinks a bottle of water inside the Saint Louis Zoo while wearing an empty gun holster on Saturday, June 13, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Ohio gun-rights activist Jeffry Smith walked into the south entrance of the Saint Louis Zoo Saturday wearing an empty gun holster. One other man with an empty holster entered with him. Smith walked to the fountain on the far end of the entryway, took a drink of water, then turned around and walked back outside the zoo’s gates.

Smith originally planned to enter the zoo with a handgun, but decided Friday to wear an empty holster instead after a St. Louis judge issued a temporary restraining order against him and anyone else who might try to test the zoo’s rule against weapons.

Extra: An audio tour of the Penguin and Puffin Coast

Jun 4, 2015
Áine O'Connor

Following a conversation of the Saint Louis Zoo’s new polar bear exhibit with its curator of mammals, Steve Bircher, St. Louis Public Radio science reporter Véronique LaCapra and “St. Louis on the Air” producer Alex Heuer took a field trip to the nearby Penguin and Puffin Coast.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been to the zoo, and this opened up in March,” Véronique said. “But I have not yet had a chance to see it, so we’re going to take a sneak peek inside.”

Meet Kali, the Saint Louis Zoo's new polar bear

Jun 4, 2015
Kali takes a swim at the Saint Louis Zoo.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

This Saturday, St. Louisans will get their first chance to see the new polar bear at the Saint Louis Zoo.

The 2 1/2 year-old, 850-pound Kali arrived at the zoo in early May, but he has been kept out of sight since then for a health quarantine and to give him time to get used to his new surroundings.

Members of the media got an early look at Kali and the zoo's new polar bear exhibit space on Thursday. Here's St. Louis Public Radio's sneak preview!

St. Louis Zoo highlights conservation efforts, wildlife-saving research

May 15, 2015
The Saint Louis Zoo's curator of birds Michael Macek works to conserve Humboldt penguins in Punta San Juan, Peru.
Courtesy of Saint Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo is spotlighting its efforts to save threatened wildlife Saturday with educational activities and a children's scavenger hunt during its 10th annual Endangered Species Day.

Zoo CEO Jeffrey Bonner called the institution a leader in animal conservation, but he acknowledges that many people don't know about its vital role in saving wildlife.

Comedian Paula Poundstone can’t keep a secret

Mar 27, 2015
Paula Poundstone
Provided

Comedian Paula Poundstone is just trying to figure things out.

Poundstone described her improv style as “accidental — same as almost everything about me.” Her comedy career started with an open mic night in 1979 in Boston. She spent time preparing for 5-minute sets, only to forget that preparation once she was on stage. Out of nervousness, she started talking to audience members and commenting on things in the room until she said she realized that was the real fun. That’s exactly what the audience can expect when Poundstone performs Saturday in St. Louis, she said.

Saint Louis Zoo’s penguins return to public life

Feb 27, 2015
King penguins will lead the Saint Louis Zoo parade to the new penguin habitat on March 5, 2015.
Robin Winkelman / Saint Louis Zoo

They’re back! The Saint Louis Zoo’s Penguin and Puffin Coast reopens Thursday to the public.

To kick off the celebration, a parade of king and gentoo penguins will lead the way to the exhibit at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The penguin exhibit closed in September 2013 for construction of a new polar bear exhibit that is next to the penguin habitat. The polar bear exhibit will open this summer.

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