Let's just get the bad news out of the way: The Saint Louis Zoo's beloved penguins have been removed from public viewing until 2015, and the sloth and Andean bears have been removed from public viewing through spring 2014.
But the good news just might outweigh the bad. The animals are only off-display so the zoo can build a state-of-the-art polar bear habitat and viewing area. It's one of several construction projects happening at the zoo. Here is a rundown of all the construction projects and details on when and where you'll see these animals again.
Sun Bear Forest | The River's Edge In the spring of 2014, Sun Bear Forest is expected to open, providing new habitat with climbing opportunities for the Malayan sun bears. This exhibit will be located within The River's Edge section of the zoo.
Andean Bear Range | The River's Edge The next time you'll see the Andean bears, they'll be exploring their new habitat, also located within The River's Edge. In spring 2014, this exhibit will open across from the current capybaras and giant anteaters exhibit. The bears will have climbing areas and a natural stream with underwater viewing areas for guests. Painted Dog Preserve | The River's Edge Also opening in the spring of 2014 is the Painted Dog Preserve in The River's Edge. This new exhibit, across from the black rhinos, provides grassy open spaces, a termite mound and a pool and stream for the dogs. Polar Bear Point | The Wild Construction began in early September on a brand new 7,050-square-foot polar bear exhibit, nearly twice the size of the old exhibit space. Polar Bear Point will open in 2015 and will include a walk-through arctic cave for visitors. The cave includes an underwater viewing area and a dry land viewing area where visitors can go nose-to-nose with the bears. The one lingering question about this exhibit is whether the zoo will receive any polar bears to live there. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for managing the wild population of polar bears in Alaska, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Polar Bear Species Survival Plan manages the captive population of bears in the country. The zoo is hopeful that one of these organizations will place a bear at Polar Bear Point upon its completion. When Polar Bear Point opens, Penguin & Puffin Coast will also reopen. Grizzly Ridge | The Wild The zoo plans to open Grizzly Ridge and the Hermann Grizzly Grotto in 2017, but construction has not yet started. The exhibit will include a floor-to-ceiling viewing area, allowing visitors closer access to the bears. Saint Louis Zoo Expansion Demolition has begun at the zoo's expansion site, formerly owned by Forest Park Hospital. The zoo plans to announce the framework plan for the expansion site later this month.
The Saint Louis Zoo is located at 1 Government Drive, St. Louis, Mo., 63110. Call 314-781-0900.