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David O'Brien

Admission Fees at the St. Louis Zoo?

By February 17, 2010

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One of the best things about St. Louis is that many of the city's most popular attractions, including the St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum and Science Center are all free. But State Senator Joan Bray of University City wants to give the Zoo and other institutions the option to charge admission to those who don't live in St. Louis City or County. According to an article in the Post-Dispatch, the Zoo and Art Museum aren't sold on her idea, but the proposal is working its way through the legislative process in Jefferson City.

Personally, I just can't imagine having to pay to take my in-laws or other out-of-town friends to the Zoo. What do you think? Share your comments below.

(Photo courtesy: St. Louis Zoo)

February 18, 2010 at 10:53 am
(1) PJ Farmer says:

I love giving my out-of-towners STL facts. And one of the facts is that we have the largest free Zoo in the nation.

For travel, STL has advertised that we have so many free attractions so come vacation here.

Charging would certainly go against that paradigm.

And what about St. Charles County?

February 18, 2010 at 3:50 pm
(2) Barbara says:

My daughter goes to college in St Louis. Over the last three years, we have definitely added money to the city and county coffers. We love St Louis – its friendliness, its generosity, its openness…charging admission fees would not keep us from coming and enjoying St Louis but it does seem to take something away from the that feeling that St. Louis has something special. St. Louis has many college students who have very little money to spend on nonessentials – Forest Park and its emenities has always been a draw to students because they could go and have a pleasant day with worrying if they had money or not.

February 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm
(3) nancy says:

I am a St.Louisian who has lived out of state for the past 22 years. I just moved back two months ago. One of my reasons for moving back was boredom of where I lived and the high price to see or do anything. I was constantly telling people there about how great St.Louis is and how so many wonderful things there are to see and do here for FREE.Please don’t take that away, I am unemployed, alone just got back. I also invited my out of state neighbors to come and see all the free places I have long been talking about. This is not good timing for me after all these yaers.

February 18, 2010 at 4:32 pm
(4) Linda says:

I was born and grew up in St Louis. One of my favorite childhood memories were whole days spent at the Zoo. My Dad would drop Mom & me & my 2 sisters off on his way to work and pick us up after work. But, realizing that was 50 years ago…it’s amazing admission has waived for so long. The cost of care & food per animal plus employee salaries has to be very high!I’m assuming there have been some corporate sponsors that help cover the costs? Have they ever done an “Adopt An Animal” program, where a person can pay the yearly costs for an animal of their choice?

February 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm
(5) Mary says:

We have been traveling to StL from Peoria, IL, for over 30 years mainly because of all the great free events that we can attend, so we don’t mind spending money for hotels and restaurants. The zoo has been one of the major attractions. We would be greatly disappointed if we had to start paying to go to the zoo and other places that currently do not have an admission fee. We brag about the free zoo to so many people and encourage them to visit the “free” zoo. It’s such a great place to go and not have to worry about it costing an arm and a leg. During the past few years, support for our zoo, fair and other events have decreased because of the admission cost. When the zoo does have a free day, it is packed. Our zoo just raised the price, and back in August I took my nephew on a real nice day, and I bet there wasn’t 30 people there — sad. So, charging for the StL Zoo and other free events should really be given a whole lot of thought — especially in this economy. Needless to say, when my relatives come from out of town to visit (especially for our annual family reunion), our zoo is one place that we will not recommend.

February 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm
(6) K&G says:

To me St. Louis is like New York but half the cost. We love to visit St. Louis for both the free attractions and the distintive characteristics about the city. I don’t understand why someone would want to charge a fee for these beautiful attractions. We would still have to pay for food, beverages, and parking. I’m sure the city receives plenty of revenue for big events (2009 All Star Week or Live on the Levi). Don’t change a thing St. Louis, you are beautiful just the way you are.

February 18, 2010 at 5:44 pm
(7) Jay says:

I am originally from St. Louis but live in Iowa now. So I guess I’d be considered an outsider and have to pay. I love the zoo and museums so much that I would still pay to go but I think attendance would suffer in the long run. If it is necessary to keep these places open then by all means. I rather donate an admission than be forced to pay it.

February 18, 2010 at 9:59 pm
(8) Steve says:

I was born and raised in Belleville. Many of my family still live there. I don’t care if they live NEAR St. Louis. I don’t care if they live in Collinsville or Jefferson county or St. Charles. We’re still from the same region no matter what our drivers license says. If I invite family or friends to visit the zoo they always spend money on the local economic scene. In turn I give them one of the nations best zoos and park. Don’t see a down side to this. It’s a symbiotic relationship. St. Lou is the hub of a pretty big wheel. Cutting off any given spoke in that wheel seems counter-productive. Whether you’re from Belleville or Brazil the zoo should be welcome to all. What a treat to open the gate to out-of towners like you own the place, which essentially we do. It’s a lot of fun to show off the zoo. Steve(in Soulard for 14 years)

February 19, 2010 at 9:50 pm
(9) Tanya says:

I live in Jefferson City. My familys first staycation was to the St. Louis Zoo and Science Center. It was a wonderful place to visit and I feel it being free to “all of us” was exceptional! Why punish people that live outside the area by making them pay? That doesn’t make sense. “If it’s not broke then don’t fix it!”

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