ST. LOUIS — The Saint Louis Zoo will be closing its Emerson Children’s Zoo for good later this year, the zoo announced on Thursday.
While the zoo works to “reimagine” the family and children’s area, a temporary dinosaur exhibit will open in its place in spring 2021. The Children’s Zoo will remain open with free admission through the end of October.
Since the zoo reopened to the public after being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Children’s Zoo has operated with additional safety measures that “greatly limit the guest experience,” the zoo said in a press release.
“For 51 years, the Saint Louis Zoo has offered a special area for its youngest visitors to connect with nature,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, 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 animal shows, indoor building, goat yard, farm-play area and playground have remained closed for precautionary measures. Keeper and docent animal handling for one-on-one guest connections have been eliminated for the safety of guests and animals.
“It was a heart-wrenching decision to close the Children’s Zoo, however, safety is our highest priority,” said Dr. 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 residing in the Children’s Zoo are in the process of being relocated to other parts of the zoo or moved to other facilities. The Tasmanian devils will remain in their habitat in the Children’s Zoo area, the zoo said.
The temporary exhibit “Dinoroarus” will occupy the current Children’s Zoo space for the next couple of years. The exhibit which will include 15 different groupings of dinosaurs. The exhibit will feature a wide range of dinosaurs including a life-size brontosaurus and 12-foot-tall tyrannosaurus.
Admission costs and other details about the exhibit will be announced in the future.