Sea Lion Sound, the Saint Louis Zoo’s new sea lion exhibit under construction in the heart of the Zoo, opens on June 30. It includes salt water pools, underwater viewing, an underwater walk-through tunnel and a new arena for sea lion shows — features that bring visitors nose-to-nose with marine mammals. Construction of the exhibit is now 95 percent complete.
The 1.5-acre sea lion habitat and arena will initially house 11 California sea lions and later will include harbor seals. The sea lions — six now at the Zoo and five coming from SeaWorld® San Antonio — will move into their new habitat this spring. Until the June 30 opening, the animals will be off view so that they can adjust to their new home. Four harbor seals from Storybook Gardens, London, Ontario, are expected to join the sea lions later this summer.
“The ability to see our sea lions so closely, interact with them and learn about them will give visitors the opportunity to form a connection and a new understanding of marine mammals and the need for their conservation,” says Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President & CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo.
The new $18 million, 10,400-square-foot Sea Lion Sound offers a naturalistic setting for the animals in a landscape inspired by the Pacific Northwest coast.
A spectacular 35-foot-long underwater viewing tunnel will be the first of its kind for sea lions in North America at the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Family Sea Lion Landing. Visitors will walk through the clear acrylic tunnel to see sea lions swimming all around them. This area also features a spacious, year-round outdoor pool and habitat with varying depths of water, rocky outcroppings and a large underwater viewing window.
The Lichtenstein Sea Lion Arena replaces the Zoo’s former sea lion arena, which for 57 years, was home to various animal shows. This new venue features an 811-seat amphitheater for seasonal shows, a large stage, a rock bridge extending into the audience and a high diving platform and slide.
When the exhibit opens on June 30, sea lion shows and animal presentations will be held several times a day. Admission to the First Bank Sea Lion Show will be $4. Admission to Sea Lion Sound exhibit will be free. More information: www.stlzoo.org