St. Louis Zoo is a popular day-out destination for Brentwood, Maplewood, and Richmond Heights residents, and now the zoo is planning to open a new 425-acre North Campus complete with a safari experience — the first of its kind within a major city. St. Louis County residents will be able to enter free of charge.
The project’s history
In 2018, the Saint Louis Zoo Association purchased the land for the North Campus with private donations. Soon after, Proposition Z was passed to fund repairs in the zoo’s Forest Park, as well as operate the north campus. Although no date has been set for construction to begin, the campus aims to be open to the public within five years. The expansion will utilize the latest cutting-edge equipment and technology so it can be completed as safely, quickly, and efficiently as possible. In particular, mini excavators are often favored for their versatility, transportability, and cost effectiveness. Construction site managers will buy tracks for mini excavator equipment to allow stability and ease of use over difficult terrain, ensuring that the equipment used for the project suits the specific requirements of the zoo expansion.
A new experience
“This is a whole other experience at North Campus”, says Jo-Elle Mogerman, director of the North Campus. “You’re transported through the animal exhibits rather than at Forest Park where you’re looking at the animals and people are surrounding the animals — here we’re going to surround the people with the animals.” The other part of the North Campus will be turned into a Conservation & Animal Science Center to help the zoo manage endangered animal populations.
Protecting existing wildlife
The North Campus — currently a golf course with 13 lakes and ponds — is already home to an abundance of wildlife. The zoo intends to conduct a biological survey to understand existing inhabitants. “As we move through our planning process and determine what species we’ll have as a part of the experiences here, both on the safari component as well as the conservation science and animal breeding side, then we’ll begin to look at the interface between the native wildlife and the wildlife that we will bring in, and determine what our best options are to make sure that both of them can flourish,” explains Mogerman.
What else can Brentwood, Maplewood, and Richmond Heights residents look forward to at the North Campus? Potential ideas currently include on-site camping and glamping, a zip line, a canopy tour, guided kayak tours and a water ride, horseback riding, and a playground. No matter what new activities the expansion provides, it is sure to attract new visitors and breath fresh life into the zoo.