Saint Louis Zoo Current Attendance Tops 3.4 million—Sets All-Time Record Free admission to Emerson Children’s Zoo this Saturday and Sunday

2012-12-28 — / — The Saint Louis Zoo is urging its many fans to help the Zoo hit an amazing milestone: 3.5 million visitors in a single year! Attendance as of Dec. 24, 2012 stands at 3,492,120 visitors—well above 2011 attendance of 3,019,597 and the Zoo’s earlier record attendance of 3,101,830 set in 2009.

As a thank you, the Emerson Children’s Zoo will be free for all visitors on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 29 and 30 with special activities including Storybook Safari, kids crafts, keeper chats, animal contact and more. A schedule of activities will be available at

The ever-popular U.S. Bank Wild Lights and the new Sea Lion Sound exhibit have contributed to the record attendance. Wild Lights, which was open on weekends Nov. 23-Dec. 23 and continues nightly Dec. 26-30, has a total gate attendance of 62,310 by Dec. 23. That total is already over the highest attendance ever recorded since Wild Lights began in the late 1990s.

The Saint Louis Zoo’s new Sea Lion Sound opened June 30 to great fanfare and huge crowds. It brings visitors nose-to-nose with swimming sea lions, with its walk-through, transparent tunnel into the sea lion habitat – the first in North America. Located in the center of the Zoo, the 1.5-acre, $18 million habitat and arena for 11 California sea lions includes two state-of-the-art marine mammal exhibits.

“We thank all the many people who came to the Zoo in 2012,” says Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. “We had a terrific year because the greater our attendance, the more people we reach and the greater opportunity we have to engage everyone in conserving animals and their habitats. We are grateful that, with support from our donors and sponsors, we are able to offer so many great attractions from our new Sea Lion Sound exhibit to Stingrays at Caribbean Cove.”

The Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the Zoo is free.

Wild Lights is open nightly Dec. 26-30 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is $4 for Zoo members and $5 for general public. Admission is free for children under age 2. Parking is free on the South Lot on Wells Drive near I-64/US40.

About Saint Louis Zoo
Named America’s #1 Zoo by Zagat Survey and Parenting Magazine, the Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. One of the few free zoos in the nation, it attracts about 3,000,000 visitors a year.


Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703