The $11.1 million habitat is twice the size of the old bear grottos and features a floor-to-ceiling viewing area where visitors can watch bears playing in the habitat's waterfalls, pools and rocky bluffs. The exhibit is a complete reconstruction of 1920s-era bear grottos and features a large freshwater wading pool, waterfall and stream, and more. The new habitat also provides 3,300 square feet of space behind the scenes. The Centene Charitable Foundation provided a leadership gift to name the new exhibit.
“We are so grateful to the Centene Charitable Foundation and many other donors for supporting the Saint Louis Zoo Association for this exhibit,” said Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO, Saint Louis Zoo. “Because of their generosity, we have built a state-of-the-art exhibit that demonstrates how the Zoo combines its innovative exhibit history and dedication to animal welfare.”
The habitat’s first two residents will be Huck and Finley, a pair of orphaned grizzly cubs currently being cared for at ZooMontana. The sibling cubs were captured in northwestern Montana when their mother was removed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Service after repeated incidents of killing domestic animals and climbing onto porches.
“This new exhibit allows us to provide our grizzly bears with excellent daily care and a very enriching environment,” said Saint Louis Zoo Curator of Mammals/Carnivores Steve Bircher. “We really think that visitors will love seeing these large carnivores up close in a way they’ve never been able to before. It’s through these personal connections that we hope to inspire people to advocate for these animals in the wild.”
A special preview will be offered to Saint Louis Zoo members in advance.
Saint Louis Zoo is located at 1 Government Dr., St. Louis, MO. Admission is free.