Metro-East News

Saint Louis Zoo Association buys union property for $7.1 million

The first residents of Grizzly Ridge, 350-pound male named Huckleberry and 250-pound female named Finley, made their public debut Thursday morning to St. Louis Zoo members. Grizzly Ridge is located on the site of the Zoo’s historic bear grottos, which closed for construction in late 2015. When the grottos were built in the early 1920s, they were considered cutting-edge, and the Saint Louis Zoo was one of the first zoos in the world to replace barred cages with the open, moated enclosures. The new habitat retains three-fifths of the original rock work, which was cast from Missouri limestone palisades. All new rock work was designed to reflect the historic look. Visitors can view the bears through a total of 22 glass-panel windows, which offer a panoramic view into the bears’ outdoor habitat.
The first residents of Grizzly Ridge, 350-pound male named Huckleberry and 250-pound female named Finley, made their public debut Thursday morning to St. Louis Zoo members. Grizzly Ridge is located on the site of the Zoo’s historic bear grottos, which closed for construction in late 2015. When the grottos were built in the early 1920s, they were considered cutting-edge, and the Saint Louis Zoo was one of the first zoos in the world to replace barred cages with the open, moated enclosures. The new habitat retains three-fifths of the original rock work, which was cast from Missouri limestone palisades. All new rock work was designed to reflect the historic look. Visitors can view the bears through a total of 22 glass-panel windows, which offer a panoramic view into the bears’ outdoor habitat. dholtmann@bnd.com

The Saint Louis Zoo Association and the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562 have entered into a purchase sale agreement for the union’s 425-acre complex in north St. Louis County for $7.1 million, using privately donated money.

The zoo plans to use the property as part of its long-range mission plan to conserve animals.

Jeffrey Bonner, president and chief executive officer of the zoo, said in a press release: “We have long desired an expanded land area to provide the best possible care for animals... There are very few parcels of land in the metropolitan area that could meet this need and we are grateful to have entered into this agreement with Local 562. The property offers great terrain, perimeter fencing, utilities, lakes, good buffers surrounding and existing buildings.”

While specific details of how the zoo will use the property are not yet known, there will likely be a public component to it. Similar to other zoos with off-site conservation facilities, the public element offered often includes a wildlife and safari experience.

John O’Mara, Local 562 business manager and secretary-treasurer said, in a press release: “Since the late 1960s, this site has been the home of hardworking skilled craftsmen in the plumbing and pipefitting industry. Local 562 is honored to sell this property to an organization that brings added value to the community.”

A male black-and-white colobus monkey was born at the Saint Louis Zoo on Dec. 29, 2017. The baby, who will be named by zookeepers at a later date, and his family can be seen at the Primate House during regular Zoo hours. This video shows him at 1

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