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Closing the St. Louis Children’s Zoo: What’s next??

This morning the Saint Louis Zoo announced that they would close the beloved Emerson Children’s Zoo in October 2020.

Dinosaurs Step Fill the Gap

The Zoo plans to fill the space with an exhibit called “DinoRoarus” while they plan a more permanent remodel of the family zone. They will fill the 3.5 acres temporarily with life-size animatronic dinosaurs in a one-of-a-kind walk-through experience.

It will open in the spring of 2021.

a dinosaur sculpture at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Remember when Dinosaurs invaded the Missouri Botanical Garden?

What’s Next for the Children’s Zoo?

A press release from the Zoo hints that they are dreaming up something new and family oriented to replace the Children’s Zoo — perhaps a new version that’s a little less touchy feely? Has 2020 made parents fearful of touching playground equipment and animals??

“For 51 years, the Saint Louis Zoo has offered a special area for its youngest visitors to connect with nature,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO, 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.”

Press Release, Saint Louis Zoo

This plan to renovate the Children’s Zoo is more spontaneous than we’re used to seeing from our world famous Zoo. Normally they would make a grand announcement of their new plans — even if they are years down the road — and then quietly say what they’re knocking down to make room.

The entire St. Louis Zoo was forced to close due to the 2020 pandemic in March of this year. Once they settled on a reopening plan, the Children Zoo and all it’s high touch exhibits, remained closed for 80 more days.

kid playing with fountain at the children's zoo in st. louis

One More Visit to the Children’s Zoo

You can still visit the Children’s Zoo until the end of October. However, Covid safety measures have reduced the kid zone to a mere shadow of it’s former self.  The animal shows, indoor building, water bubblers and other interactive areas, as well as the goat yard, farm-play area and playground remain closed for precautionary measures. Keeper and docent animal handling for one-on-one guest connections have been eliminated during this time for human and animal safety.

They aren’t charging admission to the Children’s Zoo, but probably because there’s nothing left to do in there.

boys at the st louis zoo playing with frogs

Moving the Animals

The animal residents of the Children’s Zoo will be relocated to other parts of the zoo — or other facilities. Only the Tasmanian devils will remain in place. Animals who will be moving include sheep, goats, an alpaca and a burro. There no mention at the moment of the indoor animals, like the meerkats, tree kangaroom and my favorites…the naked mole rats.

We’re also wondering where they’ll put the American River Otters, who have been a delight to see through the exhibit’s clear plastic slide.

Charles H. Yalem Children’s Zoo

We should remember that the Emerson Children’s Zoo was once a new thing too! It replaced the previous Children’s Zoo that ran from 1969 to 1997.

And before that? A seasonal children’s area. So yes, we’ve always had a Children’s Zoo…and it’s always getting better.