Saint Louis Zoo has announced the upcoming closure of the Emerson Children’s Zoo in order to reimagine the 3.5-acre family area, with a temporary dinosaur exhibit opening in its place in spring 2021.
“For 51 years, the Saint Louis Zoo has offered a special area for its youngest visitors to connect with nature,” said Jeffrey P Bonner, president and CEO of Saint Louis Zoo.
“Since 1969, the goal of the Children’s Zoo never changed, to provide dynamic experiences for all children that will inspire a love of animals and learning. The mission of connecting families and children with animals will carry forward in the planning for this new area.”
The Children’s Zoo will remain open with free admission until the end of October, with additional safety measures in place.
However, the animal shows, indoor building, water bubblers, goat yard, farm-play yard and playground remain closed at the Children’s Zoo.
Dinoroarus exhibit opening in spring 2021
In addition, keeper and docent animal handling for one-on-one guest connections have been eliminated during the coronavirus crisis for human and animal safety.
“It was a heart-wrenching decision to close the Children’s Zoo, however, safety is our highest priority,” said Bonner. “The Children’s Zoo was designed for high-touch and interactive experiences, which is not conducive to a COVID or post-COVID environment.”
Animals living at the Children’s Zoo are in the process of relocation to other parts of the Saint Louis Zoo and other facilities.
The Tasmanian devils will remain in their current habitat, and the various animals can still be seen at the Children’s Zoo, including domestic goats, alpacas, Pot-bellied pigs, river otters, burros, reptiles and American crows.
Children’s Zoo “not conductive” to COVID-19 environment
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“Ladies First!” Male African lion Ingozi patiently waits as his female companion, Cabara, has first dibs on a frozen ice treat. Did you know that adult female lions do most of the hunting? Lions usually hunt with members of their family group, often by herding a prey animal toward other lions hidden in the bush. #WorldLionDay Photo: Ray Meibaum
Plans are underway for the temporary dinosaur exhibit, named Dinoroarus, which will boast 15 different groupings of colourful dinosaurs that move realistically.
Visitors will enjoy the dinosaurs as they roar and eat the vegetation, from a life-size brontosaurus to the tyrannosaurus rex.
“We had a similar exhibit like this back in 2008, but this time, we have much more space to include many more life-size animatronic dinosaurs in a one-of-a-kind walk-through experience,” said Bonner.
“Dinoroarus will give us a chance to talk about difficult topics like extinction and how some predecessors of dinosaurs, like turtles and crocodiles, are still with us, as well as how some descendants of dinosaurs, like birds, still grace our lives.”