Friday, May 24, 2013

St.Louis Zoo

I apologize to our readers who probably thought we were done with St.Louis!  I had read somewhere, probably the St.Louis Post Dispatch, about a new sculpture at the zoo and got it into my head that I wanted to make a trip to the zoo before leaving town.  The zoo, like the botanical garden, is another gem of the St.Louis metropolitan area.  I have many happy memories there, beginning about 30 years ago when we started taking our children there.  And it has changed a lot over those years!  On Wednesday, when we visited the zoo, we needed a map to find our way around.  And yet I must add that the changes at the zoo have made it an even better place to visit!   An example of one of its changes can be found at the free flight aviary.  It was built in 1904 for the St.Louis World Fair, by the Smithsonian Institute for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.  In 1973 it served as the centerpiece for the creation of the zoo.  Over the years what was once the world's largest bird cage became the home for a variety of bird species, many of them exotic.  Today it is a cypress swamp and home to many native bird species of Missouri.  Upon entering the aviary John and I immediately identified a variety of egrets and ducks in the swamp, and one yellow-crowned night heron perched in a tree.  Cormorants were sunning themselves on the boardwalk and completely oblivious to our presence.  I was able to get quite close to the one pictured below.
It was a perfect day to be at the zoo as many animals were out and active.  In the Red Rock area of the zoo we saw a mother zebra and her baby, as well as a young giraffe.   In the kangaroo pen the animals were zipping back and forth rapidly, making it quite difficult for me to get a picture of a mother and her joey.  Which explains how I happened to get a tail flying across the picture below.  Only the babies' hand is showing out of the pouch.  I thought it made for an interesting picture!
Also in the Red Rock area I was fascinated how an okapi fed off the leaves of a tree located in his enclosure.  Even from a distance away I could see his long tongue stretching up to the lower branches.  In another pen I saw a gerenuk feeding in the same manner.  What makes the zoo so interesting for me are the interpretive signs placed by each animal enclosure.  I learned from the posted information that the gerenuk requires very little water and may not drink at all during its lifetime.  He lives in different parts of Africa.
In the Discovery Corner of the zoo is the Insectarium, Children's Zoo and Living World.  I planned to avoid  looking at bugs until I learned that going though that building was the only way to visit the butterfly house.  It was worth putting up with the bugs!  The butterflies were numerous and beautiful- I could say ditto for the plants in the butterfly house.  A docent guarding the insects informed us that there are about 150- 200 butterflies on any given day located in the green house.  John and I have been in several butterfly houses but I must say that this one has to be one of the best in the country.  I had to restrain myself from taking numerous pictures.  Hopefully I have by now given you an urge to visit the St.Louis Zoo, and there is no entrance fee.

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