ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The Saint Louis Zoo's North Campus expansion in north St. Louis County will be called the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park, the zoo announced Thursday.
Also announced was another component of the campus, the Kent Family Conservation and Animal Science Center, which was funded by the Kent Family Foundation.
The public opening may be as early as 2026, Saint Louis Zoo President and CEO Jeffrey Bonner said in front of the backdrop of the campus' location on 12385 Larimore Rd.
"COVID-19 may have slowed us down some in terms of planning... but there are many things we've been able to advance." he said. "There's a lot of work ahead of this and we want to do this right. We'd rather do this right than fast."
Guests will be able to experience wildlife safaries, "glamping" and more, Bonner said.
"We'll be able to create a wonderful, massive indoor-outdoor experience... We have a huge building, about the size of five basketball courts, and we'll bring you the best of what zoos and science centers and natural history museums have to offer, combined into one special place," he said. "There'll be no place like it anywhere. Anywhere. It's never been done before."
The campus will also further the zoo's wildlife conservation efforts. North Campus Director Dr. Jo-Elle Mogerman said that talks about exactly what animals will be at the wildlife park will have to wait, because the zoo first needs to understand the land and the plants and animals that call it home.
The zoo is currently conducting a variety of biological diversity studies to better understand the campus, Mogerman said.
Then, visibly surprised, Mogerman paused her speech for a moment to point out two bald eagles that were flying over the news conference.
"... As you can just see by the two bald eagles, that we did not stage at all, this property is home to a variety of native wildlife, and even in our plans we want to assure that that wildlife can thrive and persist," she said.
The Saint Louis Zoo Association paid $7.2 million for the 425-acre plot of county land in 2018.
Proposition Z, which voters passed in 2018, imposed a one-eighth cent sales tax that is being used to fund the campus as well as help pay for animal care and building repairs.
Watch the full announcement from the Saint Louis Zoo in the YouTube video player below: