Free Family Fun at the Saint Louis Zoo

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Do you have special memories of visiting the zoo as a child?  I do.

My Mother would take us to the Little Rock Zoo quite often when I was growing up.  We all loved it!

zoo elephantsNow that my children are getting of age to really enjoy seeing the beautiful creations, I want to take advantage of it!  We have animals, many types actually at home from rabbits, pigs, chickens, cats and a dog but their is something about seeing all the varieties that have been created for us to enjoy that is captivating.

We visited to Saint Louis Zoo for the first time in January of 2012 (it was freezing, but we were dressed appropriately) and loved it.


When we decided to vacation in Saint Louis this year, hands down we knew visiting the Saint Louis Zoo was a place we were headed back to.  The kids were bursting with excitement on our last day in Saint Louis to be heading into the zoo.  General admission is totally free!

zoo penguins

We knew we wouldn’t be able to possibly see all the animals in the time frame we had so we had everyone pick what animals were the most important for us to see before we went to make sure we hit everyone’s favorites.

Addie wanted to head back to the penguins.  They are adorable and you can really get up so close to them.  Plan on being splashed but it is so totally worth it.  It was perfect timing as we got to see them during their feeding and it was exciting to see the penguins interact with those that care for them.

zoo penguins collage

Austin was hoping we would get to see the elephants.  I was praying they would be out as during our last visit it was too cold for them.  Not only did we get to see the elephants, we were able to see a whole family plus more.  He was one happy little guy.

zoo elephant collage

The Sea Lion exhibit that was recently opened was probably my highlight, it is amazing!  Although we were not there at the right time to see one of the shows, we enjoyed watching them swim over us through the under water tunnel.  The kids loved the fact that we could be below the water and not get wet!

zoo seals

Before we left, we stopped off for a ride on the beautiful carousel.  Each ride is $3 or you can purchase a Safari Pass for $10 and enjoy all of the following:

  • Children’s Zoo
  • Zooline Railroad
  • Conservation Carousel
  • 4-D Motion Simulator
  • Movie in The Living World
  • Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks (seasonal)

The weather was not permitting the Zooline Railroad to run that day, which Austin was really disappointed but it is something he will look forward to on our next visit hopefully this summer!

Conservation at the Saint Louis Zoo

The Saint Louis Zoo has formed a zoo-wide Resource Conservation & Recycling Committee to study energy and environmental practices that will conserve valuable resources.


The Zoo currently is very focused on recycling and as a result they diverted 53.09% of its total waste from landfills in 2011.

  • Cardboard – The Zoo in 2011 recycled 63.32 tons of cardboard, saving 24,695 kilowatthours of electricity, and 570 cubic yards of landfill space and the associated cost of hauling 1,076 trees and 37,169 pounds of air pollution.
  • Paper – In 2011, the Zoo recycled 19.09 tons of mixed paper, saving 325 trees and 58.42 cubic yards of landfill. Because of the reuse of this paper, the Zoo avoided emissions of 11,206 pounds of air pollution and use of 8,839 gallons of oil.
  • Plastics – Through recycling of 6,297 pounds of plastics (#’s 1,2,3), the Zoo increased its rate for capturing discarded plastics from 29.1% in 2010 to 68.27% in 2011.
  • Animal waste – The Zoo recycled over 2,291,040 pounds of animal waste, bedding and green waste, sending these materials to Saint Louis Composting throughout the year. This initiative saved 1,146 tons of waste from going to landfills and provided finished products that were then reused.
  • Metals – The Zoo recycled 35,660 pounds of scrap metal, keeping it out of landfills and saving the cost of hauling it away. By recycling 8,816 pounds of precious metals, they were able to recoupe $1,608 for Zoo programs.
  • Light bulbs – In 2011, the Zoo’s light bulb recycling project continued, with all departments collecting their bulbs. On specific days during the year, these bulbs are recycled with Project Incorporated, a local non-profit organization; 1,441 pounds of light bulbs were recycled in 2011.
  • Electronics – The Information Technology Department recycled approximately 7,026 pounds of computers, monitors, printers, copiers and other assorted electronics in 2011. These go to Midwest Recycling Center in Saint Louis to be broken down and recycled.

Conserving Resources

  • Fuel – The Zoo recently changed many of its gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles to avoid using higher-cost fossil fuels, reduce harmful substances released into the atmosphere and save money.  The new bio diesel station, which was built and designed by Zoo staff in 2011, converts grease from Zoo restaurants to diesel fuel for Zoo vehicles and equipment. This project will result in substantial fuel savings for years to come.
  • Heating & Cooling – A new, more energy-efficient chiller, was installed in Penguin & Puffin Coast in 2011 to replace an older piece of equipment that kept the exhibit cool for the animals.  This equipment is expected to save up to 75,000 kilowatt house of electricity annually.

I not only loved our experience as a family, but also that the zoo is so focused on reducing their carbon footprint, conserving our natural resources and minimizing the impact we have on the earth and it’s environment for the sake of the animals we were visiting to enjoy.  If you would like to learn more about the zoos conservation efforts, visit their website.

Visiting the Saint Louis Zoo is hands down one of the best family fun things to do in Saint Louis.  The general admission is totally free and they have so much to offer.  We could totally spend many days here and hope to be visiting again very soon!  The zoo is packed full of special events during the spring/summer months so I encourage you to check them out.

If you are heading close to Saint Louis, MO I can’t highly encourage you enough to plan a visit to the Saint Louis Zoo.

10 thoughts on “Free Family Fun at the Saint Louis Zoo”

  1. I do! I spent most of my childhood visiting The San Diego Zoo. Can’t wait to one day take my husband and children. The St. Louis Zoo looks like a lot of fun, too. I hope to eventually visit as many zoos through the country as I can. Love that they have a FREE day.

  2. I love the elephants – so cool that there is a baby one! 🙂 That is a great shot of that penguin! Were you kids actually on the rocks with the penguins? I do want to visit St. Louis at some point. I want to go up in the arch!

    1. The kids are actually in front of the glass while the penguins are being feed but you are close enough to touch (although you can’t). It is so cool!

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