Image: © Saint Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo Unveil Plans for New Destination Discovery Zone


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


May 13, 2023 6:33 pm


Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri, The United States

The Saint Louis Zoo have announced plans to transform the site of the former Emerson Children’s Zoo which closed during the Covid-19 pandemic in to the Henry A. Jubel Foundation Destination Discovery. At present the area is home to the temporary Emerson Dinoroarus exhibit which will close in November 2023 to allow construction to commence.

“Thanks to an incredibly generous $15 million lead gift from the Henry A. Jubel Foundation, we are able to carry forward the goal of the previous Children’s Zoo by providing dynamic experiences for children and families that will inspire a love of animals and learning, but in new and innovative ways,” said Dwight Scott, Dana Brown President & CEO, Saint Louis Zoo. “Destination Discovery will have animal adventures at every turn. You will be able to explore and play side by side with animals, building connections to the natural world.” 

The new 2.8 acre zone will cost an estimated $40 million to develop. Funding is being sought from several sources including philanthropy. Construction will begin in 2024 with a targeted opening in 2026.

The Jubel Foundation is named for Henry A. Jubel, who immigrated to St. Louis from Germany. Today, Henry’s legacy is carried out through his family’s philanthropy as longtime supporters of the Zoo. 


“Our family has a longstanding and deep connection with the Saint Louis Zoo,” said Melissa Jubel Markwort, Executive Director, Henry A. Jubel Foundation. “When the Children’s Zoo closed in 2020, as a family we knew we wanted to be a part of bringing this space back to life and in an even better way.” 

For 51 years guests visiting the Saint Louis Zoo have been able to enjoy close-up encounters with animals and their caretakers at the children's zoo. The new zone is planned to build on this legacy while embracing new technology to further the zoo's mission.

“Connecting with animals and nature is an important part of a healthy, active childhood, and the future of wildlife and wild places depends on the community as a whole caring for and conserving them,” said Scott. “When you care for animals, our shared world becomes a healthier place for all living things.” 

Guests visiting the new zone will first enter a building featuring state-of-the-art interactive projection, projection mapping and augmented reality technology that sets the stage for the rest of the day’s adventures. This space will change with the seasons showing how nature changes.

Outside guests will find the Forest Families, Underground Cities and Freshwater Wilderness and Water Play Area areas. Species inhabiting the new development may include java finches, Tasmanian devils, North American river otters, black-tailed prairie dogs, Patagonian mara, alpaca and Chilean flamingo.

Up close experiences may be available such as feeding the java finches with a seed stick, walking through the same space home to the mara and alpaca or staring at a prairie dog through a pop-up bubble inside their habitat.

Guests amenities will include a splash zone to cool down, an event area along with retail and food and beverage.

Saint Louis Zoo Destination Discovery Zone

Image: © Saint Louis Zoo

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Image: © Saint Louis Zoo

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