The St. Louis Zoo

The area that is now the St Louis Zoo started as a very large bird aviary for the 1904 World's Fair, which was famously attended by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire. The local citizens purchased the massive iron cage to start the zoo (it was pretty much where it is now).

In 1910, they incorporated the zoo with citizens, not the government, making the decisions.

The city of St. Louis then dedicated 77 acres in Forest Park for the zoo (and started to exercise control), also in 1910. So much for citizen groups.

It's grown quite steadily over the years, and pretty much every attraction in Forest Park, including this world class zoo, is free for the enjoyment of the populace.

The Grounds

A huge park, circumnavigated by a train system showcasing both diverse Victorian-style buildings and modern habitat recreations, keeping the old and the new in sync with each other.
Carrying 39 million people since 1963, it's a great way to get around the zoo or distract young children, or to tie a damsel to the tracks

Traversing the Zoo

I entered from the north, and went around in a vaguely counter clockwise manner, first visiting the insects building, bypassing the Dinsoaurus special display (ok, this costs extra).
So so many bugs and yeah, yuck! Attached is a butterfly environment with a jungle that supports them, and you enter instead of viewing remotely
Then I went through the River's Edge, which is a multi-continent environmental representation of habitats for animals that rely on the rivers around them.
Asian sun bear, pretty bored it seems That was... well, he's huge and looking right at me and you can't see him more than 1 foot away in the murk Elephant posing for me, I appreciated that
Not laughing now, are you Mr. Hyena? One of the many species of critically endangered Rhinos
After that it was up to Historic Hill, and the 19 teens buildings. First is the Reptiles (herpetological but even I find that too pretentious), then the primates (there are many primates buildings at the zoo).
The building has many reptiles.  Don't miss the lower level and the large families of tortoises Monkeying around as they are wont to do
Then it was continuing to Red Rocks which is an African savannah and really well done. It has multiple enclosures that simulate the environs of the animals in them.
Ok, I'll spare you the bad lion around pun They really kept their distance from the edge where all the hairless primates were gawking at them Takin on the lookout for predators at sunset
Then back down to the birds building, another of the older animal housings, who are in a pretty interesting "cage" with long strings in the front preventing escape.
He and I had a brief moment of mutual fascination, then off to dig for bugs or something
And... it was time to see the Aviary, now a recreation of a swamp, or bayou, with many native birds.
The original piece that started the zoo
Then it was back around to great apes (they were all hiding at this time of day), the seals, and polar regions exhibits.
Now this is a complete attitude of not caring And also these guys, not caring either, so so done with people.  I can relate at times

Summary

An expansive zoo with many diversions for kids, free to access, and if you plan correctly, also free to park on the streets. It takes many hours to see it all (let's call it an entire day) with many food options.

Also, of course, a gift shop at the north entrance.
Beer for those who, well it is St. Louis, I suppose this is to be expected More unique hand -items that help fund the zoo