Environmentally Friendly St. Louis
Every day is Earth Day in St. Louis where an outstanding collection of ecotourism attractions are easy to reach. This tour highlights the efforts being made by popular St. Louis visitor institutions to save endangered animal and plant species and to teach groups how simple things they can do in their own homes can help preserve the earth’s environment.
1. The Missouri Botanical Garden
Plan to stay: 1-2 hours
For more information: www.mobot.org
The Missouri Botanical Garden is praised in National Geographic for its unparalleled efforts to catalog plants from the world’s rain forests. The 79-acre garden has been a St. Louis institution since 1859. At the Climatron geodesic greenhouse, the mysterious world of the rainforest comes alive with up-close views of exotic plants, free-flying birds and bubbling waterfalls. An attached interpretive center, complete with displays of exotic rainforest dart frogs, teaches about the rainforest ecosystem’s importance to the planet and reminds groups of the current destruction of the rainforests and how it affects the rest of the world.
At the garden’s Kemper Center for Home Gardening, discover ways that home gardeners can utilize their land effectively using environmentally safe fertilizing and pest-control methods. Specialty gardens demonstrate how to attract butterflies, bees and birds and the Center’s “plant doctor” helps diagnose gardening problems and propose eco-safe solutions to common garden problems.
2. Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House & Education Center
Plan to stay: 45 mins- 1 hour
For more information: www.butterflyhouse.org
The mission of the Butterfly House is to foster a better understanding and increased awareness of our natural world through the observation of butterflies, their habitats, life cycles and role in the world’s eco-system. Mingle with more than 60 species of the world’s most beautiful butterflies in free flight that reside in the center’s 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory. The center also features colorful exhibits, nature films and the “Miracle of Metamorphosis” display where butterflies emerge from chrysalis before group members’ eyes. Outdoor sculpture gardens are planted to attract “wild” butterflies and demonstrate how to turn any yard into a butterfly habitat.
3. Shaw Nature Reserve
Plan to stay: 45 mins. – 1 hour
For more information: www.mobot.org/MOBOT/naturereserve
Groups can view restored plant and animal habitats at the Shaw Nature Reserve (www.mobot.org/MOBOT/naturereserve), (45 min.-1.5 hrs.) a 2,500-acre experimental ecological reserve filled with tracts of tall prairie grass, wildflower glades, wetlands and woodlands. A 300-foot boardwalk allows visitors a close-up and dry-footed look at a portion of the 20-acre wetlands area and its animal inhabitants. To enhance your visit, sit in on a class or programs on ecology, crafts or gardening.
4. The Saint Louis Zoo
Plan to stay: 2-4 hours
For more information: www.stlzoo.org
The Saint Louis Zoo is a world-renowned leader in animal conservation projects and has embarked upon an innovative captive breeding strategy to ensure the survival of many of the world’s most endangered species including cheetahs, black rhinoceros, okapis and more than 80 other breeds. The facility is considered among the Top Ten Zoos in the nation and is noted for its naturalistic animal habitats.
The Zoo’s Living World education and discovery center is the first facility of its kind to use high technology and live animals to teach about the diversity of life on Earth. An animatronic Charles Darwin talks about his discoveries and follows the evolution of life from the past to the future, and documentaries about the animal kingdom and worldwide animal conservation efforts run continuously in the theatre.
The Zoo’s 7,000 animals join with the Living World to provide a complete learning experience. At the Children’s Zoo, group members can hand feed colorful, friendly little parrots called lorikeets, see hatchlings inside the Zoo’s nursery incubators and watch hippos dance beneath the waves in a unique underwater viewing area in the River’s Edge animal habitat. Check out the cold-weather residents of the Zoo’s Penguin and Puffin Coast dwelling or go buggy at the Monsanto Insectarium that features six-legged critters and a beautiful butterfly dome.
5. The World Bird Sanctuary
Plan to stay: 1 hour
For more information: www.worldbirdsanctuary.org
Birds and reptile species from around the world are on display at the World Bird Sanctuary (www.worldbirdsanctuary.org), (1.5 hrs.) one of the largest facilities in the world for the conservation of our feathered friends. Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the WBS breeding facilities and observe numerous species of local songbirds at special feeding stations and bird-watching blinds located along the sanctuary’s woodland trails.
6. Endangered Wolf Center
Plan to stay: 1 hour
For more information:http://www.endangeredwolfcenter.org/
At the Endangered Wolf Center groups can see wolves from all over the world. The Center offers education programs about wolves and hosts a renowned captive breeding facility for endangered wolf species.
7. The Saint Louis Science Center
Plan to stay: 1.5 -3 hours
For more information: www.slsc.org
The Science Center devotes a major gallery to Ecology and the Environment. Engaging hands-on activities, thoughtful displays, animatronic elements and gallery demonstrations guide group members through the changes to our environment from prehistoric times to the present and on to tomorrow. At the Science Center’s new Boeing Space Station at the McDonnell Planetarium, group members can learn about the environment of outer space and find out what it’s like to live and work on the international space station. Beneath the giant planetarium roof, the environment of the night sky is projected on a raised, domed ceiling with technology that produces the brightest and most realistic star field available today.
6. The City Museum
Plan to stay: 1-2 hours
For more information: www.citymuseum.org
Located in downtown St. Louis, the City Museum has taken the concept to dizzying new heights. Housed in the 600,000 square-foot building that once housed the International Shoe Company, the museum is the brainchild of local artists who have created the museum from all sorts of “found stuff.” They didn’t have to go far to find materials for the facility, as the curious curators reclaimed a variety of building materials, such as old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cranes, miles of tile, and even a couple of abandoned airplanes. The result is one of the most creative and eye-popping works of art you’ll ever see.