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Behind the Scenes at the Saint Louis Zoo

Experience Animals Like Never Before at the Best Zoo in America

After winning USA Today’s “10 Best” contest in 2017, The Saint Louis Zoo officially became the country’s best zoo. The Zoo is well-known as one of America’s top free attractions. However, guests can also pay affordable prices to engage in a wide variety of fun Behind-the-Scenes Tour experiences. As Mandi Nordin, Group Tours Agent at the Zoo, explains, there are several tours to choose from that keep visitors coming back for more.

Currently, the Zoo boasts seventeen Behind-the-Scenes Tours offered within animal division areas as well as three Geek Tours. With prices ranging anywhere from $25-$100 per person, these tours allow visitors to get up close and personal with various animals such as penguins and sloths to bugs, reptiles and birds.

The Geek Tours are new a new feature of the zoo that were added within the zoo’s business operations. These tours show visitors what it’s like to manage a non-profit organization and keep the Zoo sustainable despite being a free attraction.  “We also show our guests what conservation measures we are taking to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Nordin. “Anywhere from our solar panels to reducing water consumption.” The Geek Tours are all encompassing and appeal to a variety of demographics.

As for the animal tours, there are countless options. “The top three most requested would be penguins, giraffes and big cats. However, now sloths are popular. It’s a seasonal tour but during that season it can bump the top three,” explains Nordin.

One of the tours that is the most ‘hands-on’ is the sea lion tour. “The trainers take you through the sea lions’ living space as well as the indoor area, in regards to training and diet prep. They also do a private show with you to try and incorporate you into their training routine,” says Nordin. “The sea lions are trained with positive reinforcement. The guest will reward the animal with fish after they perform a behavior.” Another opportunity that grants guests with an experience of a lifetime, is the Tortoise tour, where visitors are able to go inside the tortoise habitat and feed them.

Because there are so many tours to choose from, these Behind-the-Scenes tours are bringing more and more return guests to the Zoo, as they want to experience each tour. Buying tours for loved ones as a gift is also an increasing trend, according to Nordin. “We are the best in the nation. We are dedicated to the animals and educating our guests. People see that. Rather than buying typical gifts, they provide an experience with memories to cherish, instead. It is an opportunity to see animals up close and get a better look at our wild world.”

Tours must be pre-booked in advance and most tours are recommended for ages 8 and up, with some tours are able to accommodate children as young as 5.

- By Ettractions Digital Content Editor PAULA MARINO 

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