APRIL 4, 2012 -- Sea Lion Sound, the Saint Louis Zoo's new sea lion exhibit will open on Wednesday, June 30, 2012. It includes salt water pools, an underwater viewing area, an underwater walk-through tunnel and a new arena for sea lion shows. Construction of the exhibit is now 95 percent complete, according to a zoo news release.
The 1.5-acre sea lion habitat and arena will initially house 11 California sea lions and later will include harbor seals. The sea lions — six now at the zoo and five coming from SeaWorld San Antonio — will move into their new habitat this spring. Until the June 30 opening, the animals will be off view so that they can adjust to their new home. Four harbor seals from Storybook Gardens, London, Ontario, are expected to join the sea lions later this summer.
"The ability to see our sea lions so closely, interact with them and learn about them will give visitors the opportunity to form a connection and a new understanding of marine mammals and the need for their conservation," said Jeffrey Bonner, president and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo.
The new $18 million, 10,400-square-foot Sea Lion Sound offers a naturalistic setting for the animals in a landscape inspired by the Pacific Northwest coast.
A spectacular 35-foot-long underwater viewing tunnel will be the first of its kind for sea lions in North America. Visitors will walk through the clear acrylic tunnel to see sea lions swimming all around them. This area also features a year-round outdoor pool and habitat with varying depths of water, rocky outcroppings and an underwater viewing window.
The Lichtenstein Sea Lion Arena replaces the zoo's former sea lion arena. This new venue features an 811-seat amphitheater for seasonal shows, a large stage, a rock bridge extending into the audience and a high diving platform and slide.
When the exhibit opens on June 30, sea lion shows and animal presentations will be held several times a day. Admission to the First Bank Sea Lion Show will be $4. Admission to Sea Lion Sound exhibit will be free. The former arena closed in fall 2011. There will be no sea lion shows in May or June prior to the exhibit opening.
Construction for Sea Lion Sound began in September 2010 as part of the zoo's Living Promise Campaign.
The Saint Louis Zoo is located at 1 Government Drive, St. Louis, Mo., 63110.