Running from the Law: St. Louis Zoo - Part 3

Friday, July 2, 2010

St. Louis Zoo - Part 3

Next up, Big Cat Country.  Sinewy muscles, beautiful fur, shearing teeth, padded toes, supple body, all describe the inhabitants of Big Cat Country. This spectacular natural outdoor setting for tigers, leopards and other big cats was constructed in 1975.  Dramatic, simulated rock formations provide realistic backdrops for the handsome felines. Big Cat Country takes the form of a large wheel. Three large open yards, almost one-third of an acre each, have trees and shrubs, boulders and a pool. The center yard has a 27-foot-high waterfall. There are four smaller yards that provide excellent viewing or photographing of the climbing cats. From a safe distance, of course!

I remember going to the Zoo as a kid and always being so disappointed in the big cats.  We NEVER saw them!  I doubted that the Zoo even had big cats.  Looking back I realize it was always ass-sweat miserable hot when we were there, smack-dab in the middle of the day.  And that's when cats tend to sleep. (Duh.)  So we never really got a good look at the cats. 

But this day, things were different.  After a few hour detour at St. Louis Beer Fest (blog post to come later on that), Ryan and I returned to the Zoo to check out the cats.  A storm was blowing in and it was cooling off.  The crowds at the Zoo disappeared and the cats came out to play.  Finally!

First up, the tiger.  I'm partial to the tiger because it's the mascot for my alma mater.  MIZ-ZOU!!  There were three tigers out and about.  They are enormous!  And gorgeous!

And lovey dovey. 
Check out these two sweethearts.
Awww, tiger loving.
Did you know tigers love pepper?  They hate cinnamon.

I thought this little kitty looked like Jigs.
No?  Ok.
It took all I had (and a 50 foot metal fence) to keep me from jumping in there and rubbing those ears.  I'm totally dying over those two white tips on the ends of her ears.  Oh my goodness...

Not everyone was feeling the relief of the heat though. 
This guy was still miserable.
Probably just hungover from the raging cat party the night before.
Cats are wild.
And the snow leopard was bored out of his mind.
The lions were just lyin' around.
Acting tough.
Being all King of the Jungle.
Is was about this time I had the feeling I was being watched...
But since I'm harmless she decided to go back to sleep and let me live.

Q: What does the lion say to his friends before they go out hunting for food ?
A: 'Let us prey.'
Conveniently, the lion's favorite food was just 1 cage away!
Baby zebra. 
Q:  Why didn't the giraffe get invited to the party?
A:  He was a pain in the neck!
But these giraffes had zero sense of humor.
They just stuck out their tongues at us.
Perhaps these two rams got caught telling jokes in class.
That's why they're being punished and have to stand in the corner.
And this guy is just an ass.
In 1996 the Zoo opened a new Bird Garden located on two acres between the Bird House and the 1904 Flight Cage. The garden was designed as a tranquil escape for bird lovers. A winding pathway through the Bird Garden leads to six large aviaries, a spacious walk-through aviary and a shaded pavilion overlooking an exhibit of cranes. Vertical stainless steel wires, almost invisible, allow the visitor an unobstructed view of the colorful, resident birds that call this lushly planted and dramatically scenic exhibit home.

Lastly, we made it to the famous bird cage. As I mentioned before, the Smithsonian Institution commissioned the Flight Cage for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and intended to move it to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. following the Fair. But St. Louisans rallied to keep the Flight Cage intact, and the City of St. Louis soon purchased it for $3,500. Within a few short years, it served as the impetus for St. Louis to develop a full-fledged zoo – the first municipally supported zoo in the world.
The bird house is enormous and really spectacular.  The perfect place for my bird-killing husband to go.  He started immediately climbing the walls.  And wishing he'd brought a shotgun.

As we entered the cage, they all took flight.
They knew a killer was among them.
Flee!  Fly Away Home!
Even though he was unarmed, I was concerned for the safety of the birds.
Especially the ducks.
No Ryan, they do not look delicious.
Luckily, he's a nice guy.
And even the little ones warmed up to him.
(Secretly, I was waiting for the bird to bite him.)

So that was our day at the Zoo!  We didn't make it to the Apes or the Snakes or the Stingrays due to a torrential downpour, but we'll be back soon.  With a large insulated cooler bag to kidnap a penguin.  Just kidding!

All Zoo information in this post was found on the St. Louis Zoo website:


  1. Wow, that zoo is seriously amazing!! Great pictures! Have a wonderful Holiday weekend:)

  2. Tigers are my favorite!! You got some great pictures too!

  3. Only you could turn a trip to the Zoo into a four part series AND make it interesting. You're the best. Loved the Hangover quote you slipped in. Can't wait to hear about part 4: the St. Lewis Beer Fest.

  4. Great blog entry about the zoo! I love that zoo and hope to return soon. Actually, I'm going there in September, I think.

    I especially love your photos of the cats.

    Giraffes stick their tongues out a lot. My caption for one similar photo I took: "I blow raspberries in your general direction!"