ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Zoo shared several new renderings and updates of guest experiences and animals at their WildCare Park Tuesday, July 19. The 425-acre property is located in Spanish Lake in St. Louis County. Animals will begin arriving in 2023 for a pilot pasture. The park is expected to open for the public in 2027.
Zoo officials imagine several safari-like experiences akin to a big-budget dinosaur movie. Only St. Louis County residents will be able to experience WildCare Park admission-free. Admission prices for guests outside of St. Louis County will be announced later.
With funding from St. Louis Zoo Association cash reserves, philanthropy, and external financing proceeds, the development of the area was completed at an estimated cost of $230 million. St. Louis Zoo President Dwight Scott shared how he felt about the project.
“We are excited to share these WildCare Park updates,” Scott said. “Our team has been extremely busy and we look forward to sharing more updates on WildCare Park as we move forward.”
The park is set to open to the public in 2027. WildCare Park animals will begin to arrive via pilot pasture in 2023.
The initial list of experiences that will likely be at WildCare Park:
- Two 30-minute safaris from vehicles similar to the size of a school bus that seat 30-40 passengers. During the safaris, animal experts will share stories and describe the behaviors of the animals as well as the care they receive and the field conservation work done by conservationists through the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute. During both safaris, guests can learn what they can do to help save species from extinction and
- Woodland Safari – Guests can enjoy viewing animals within this 63-acre natural wooded habitat that is interspersed with grassy areas. The star of the Woodland Safari is the white rhino. A group of up to 10 white rhinos will have free range throughout Woodland Safari, living with approximately 30 other larger ungulates – for example, eland and sable antelope – and ostriches.
- Savanna Safari – This 101-acre pasture looks more like a traditional savanna with large grassy areas dotted with trees and includes several lakes and ponds. From a safari vehicle, guests can enjoy viewing approximately 100 animals, including a herd of up to 20 giraffes as well as ungulates like Grevy’s zebra, banteng, greater kudu, scimitarhorned oryx, and waterbucks.
- Walking safari experience – This multiple-acre habitat will allow guests to have an
immersive experience as they wander through the habitat on a path with animals all
- A “zooseum” – This 5,000-8,000 square foot interactive indoor zoo-museum-science center that will use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) as well as other technologies to help guests feel how animals experience the world.
- Nature adventure area – 60 acres of land geared toward families and children who can (re)discover nature surrounded by native Missouri wildlife flora and fauna.
- Safari observation tower – For a fee, guests can enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience by going 11 stories up in the air to take in 360-degree views of WildCare Park, the cityscape and the Missouri-Mississippi River Confluence.
- Premium safaris – For a fee, guests can take a guided tour with an animal expert in two ways.
- Board the back of an open-air truck that seats about 12 guests and go “off-road” for exciting up-close experiences with the animals. There would be opportunities to feed giraffes and other species from the truck as well as get a close up of the Kent Family Conservation and Animal Science Center.
- Climb into a jeep that can seat four guests and spend a few hours experiencing educational interactions with WildCare Park animal care professionals, visit behind-thescenes areas in pastures and barns, and more.
- Giraffe feeding – This unique animal experience will have guests at head height to giraffes. For a fee, guests can purchase browse or lettuce to offer to the giraffes getting up close to their 18-inch tongues.
- Glamping – Spend the night glamping – or glamorous camping – in one of 10 private luxury cabins. Guests can just relax or embark on a safari ride, take a nature hike, enjoy a meal and/or chat with animal care or research experts. Guests can even participate in an activity that is a positive action for wildlife – for example, building a bat house. The three-season cabins have incredible views into the Savanna Safari and will have their own full en suite bathrooms.
- Restaurant – Enjoy a delicious meal or sip on a beverage at the WildCare Park restaurant. Indoor and outdoor seating will be available. The outdoor seating has views looking into a conservation pasture.
- Event center – Book a special event at WildCare Park. The event center will accommodate smaller functions and large celebrations as there will be two ballrooms. Located in the center of WildCare Park, there will be breathtaking views of the Savanna
Animals that might call WildCare Park home:
- Grevy’s zebra
- Greater kudu
- Roan antelope
- Somali wild ass
- Przewalski’s horse
- Scimitar-horned oryx
- Nile lechwe
- Gazelle (various species)
- White rhino
- Sable antelope
- Bactrian camel
For more information, please visit STL Zoo.org.