Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Best Free Zoo Around


Little Abbey is of the age where anyplace we go seems to include a stop at the local zoo. In this case, we hit up the St. Louis Zoo which as it turns out is completely free. Although the free zoos that I have visited over the years have been good for kids, they generally only have a small variety of animals, the enclosures are small and stark, and the overall park lacks amenities such as shady benches here and there to rest the weary feet while we contemplate the animals before us. The St. Louis Zoo is an exception in every way.


We arrived on the hottest day of the year down there so far just after lunch and as we sat with the car running eating our lunches before entering, I wasn't looking forward to the walk across the black asphalt parking lot to the entrance. I have to report that it was just as hot of a walk as it looked and by the time we reached the entrance I was already sweating bullets.


The first odd thing to strike me was upon entering the gate right by the souvenir shop, I immediately started looking for the ticket booth and reaching for my wallet. It took a few moments for it to soak in that this was indeed a free zoo (thanks to the taxpayers of St. Louis or perhaps all of Missouri) and that I could simply just walk in. We picked up our free map and hit the trails.


Being a weekday with school in session and a hot one at that, I thought we might have the place to ourselves but evidently the word was out because there were people everywhere. I can't imagine what it looks like on a summer Saturday afternoon but I would guess the place is a zoo. (Pun intended.)


Never the less, as I alluded to above, there were lots of shady benches here and there so when the walking got to hot for the three Filipina's that were with me, we had plenty of places to rest our feet. You would think that coming from a tropical country right near the equator they could handle the heat better than me but that certainly wasn't the case.


The "cages" for the animals were some of the largest I have seen giving the animals plenty of opportunity to roam around which made it hard at times to capture them on "film" even with a telephoto lens on but I didn't mind. I still felt I was right there in the cage most of the time. We spent all afternoon there and still only managed to get through a little over half of the zoo. I guess we will have to save the rest for next time.


The only disappointment was that the dolphin show was closed during the weekdays so I couldn't take my daughter to see one but that was still only a small disappointment. My daughter and myself included were thrilled in every other way. So if you are in St. Louis, you can't beat the going to the zoo for the afternoon for entertainment and you certainly can't beat the price.

13 comments:

R. Sherman said...

That's the nice thing about the Forest Park attractions. They exist via a regional sales/hotel tax and private donations. The Zoo, Art and History museums are all free and first rate. They do charge for special exhibitions, however.

As for the Zoo specifically, I sometimes forget how good it is. Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom fame was the director for many years and his notoriety helped make it the quality place it is.

Cheers.

sage said...

You can send Randall a thank you note for your admission... I remember being at the zoo around 1970--I loved the bird atrium.

Ed said...

R. Sherman - Well I was happy for the hotel tax I paid because they spent it well with your zoo.

Sage - I owe Randall quite a bit, especially for his tips of places to eat.

TC said...

Oh man, I'm craving a trip to the St. Louis zoo now!

Um, when is one supposed to out-grow that trip to the zoo age every trip thing? Cuz I'm not sure I'm there yet...

PhilippinesPhil said...

My brother raves about that zoo. He claims its the best in the world, and for your money it probably is!

Ed said...

TC - I'll let you know when I find out but I've yet to out-grow zoos.

Phil - It's been awhile and I went in the depth of winter but I thought the Omaha Zoo in Nebraska was the best one I've been too. But for the price, St. Louis certainly is tops on my list now.

Murf said...

Animals shouldn't be in cages nor should hippos be found in St. Louis. The photo of the gorilla is heartbreaking.

Nice updated look to your blog though.

PhilippinesPhil said...

I share your sentiment Murf, however, I've lived in a multitude of third world countries where most of these animals come from and many of these places have no conservation or wildlife program at all, or at least not effective ones. I live in one now where the gov't passes laws to protect wild animals, but the laws are mostly ignored by people who just want to eat or make a few pennys. Zoos, if done right, at least provide a gene pool when the home populations become decimated. Not only that, people need to see these creatures to generate support for saving them. Its a dichotomy, I know, but there it is.

Woody said...

We love the whole of Forest Park. The zoo in the morning and a stroll through the art museum during the heat of the afternoon make for a very full and enriching day.

The science center is also a Forest Park venue that is worth the visit...but not free.

Woody said...

My mistake...the Science Center is free...the IMAX shows are not.

Ed said...

Murf - I agree with Phil on this one. I would also say that there are differences in types of zoos. This one is a much more humane place for animals than say my local one in the urban jungle.

I didn't want to update my blog but there were just features that I couldn't pass up that corrected nagging issues. I wish they had a lighter shade of parchment. That is the one thing I dislike about my new look.

Phil - Spot on.

Woody - The science center was on my list but unfortunately, four tired girls couldn't bear the thought of walking anymore after the zoo.

Beau said...

Neat pictures- It is one of the better zoos... glad it was a nice visit for the little one :)

Three Score and Ten or more said...

St Louis Zp is one of the four best in the world. When we lived near St. Louis (Graduate work in Carbondale Illinois) We took our (then) three sons there as often as we could. As I get older the railroad train is becoming my favorite part.