Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Backstory: St. Louis Zoo -- You Could Win a Polar Bear!

Joanna Campbell Slan's Note: I have always been prone to asking inopportune questions. "The Backstory" blog posts illustrate my endless quest to satisfy what Rudyard Kipling would have called my 'satiable curiosity.


Voted Best Zoo and the nation's Best Free Attraction, the St. Louis Zoological Park is a leader in animal conservation.

It's one of my favorite places on earth--and it figures prominently in FATAL, FAMILY, ALBUM: Book #13 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series (Nov. 13 release).

I've written a poem to this fabulous spot, and it appears below the photo of Kali, the polar bear.

One lucky person who comments on this post before Friday will win Kali, a stuffed polar bear, direct from the St. Louis Zoological Park.

Kali, the polar bear


Ode to the St. Louis Zoological Park
by Joanna Campbell Slan

In St. Lou, it is taboo
To call this space,
A commonplace "zoo."
We think it vulgar, we find it crass,
Others might call it a pain in the asp,
But the word "zoo" is strictly low class,
So if you wish, to do as we do,
You'll never, ever call it a "zoo,"
When founded back in 1910,
Animals lived their lives in a pen,
But today they frolic, their lives are a lark,
In fake natural environs,
Green and lush like a park,
In 1960, Marlin Perkins' TV shows,
Taught his viewers what St. Louis knows,
That our  animals must be preserved
So that all humanity is well served
By contact with the Animal Kingdom,
To this end, conservators bring them,
The rare and endangered, the few, and the weak,
With hooves and scales and even a beak,
Our keepers encourage the shy to breed,
Supplying privacy, hormones, whatever they need.
Even enrichment with balls and toys and more
When Fred the gorilla was feeling sore,
The keepers took him to a hospital
Where he could get care
Indeed, he got an MRI there,
Arthritis caused a pain in his neck,
They prescribed painkillers,
And what the heck?
He was better, happier too,
See? This is really more than a zoo,
It's a place where we care for our animal kin
For it seems the more we learn about them
The better we know our place on this earth,
And we protect our species by attending the birth
Of other creatures great and small
The Zoological Park tends to them all.


Do you have a favorite zoo?  Or a favorite animal in the zoo? You have until Friday to tell me about it. I'll choose one lucky comment at random and send that person Kali, the stuffed polar bear.




78 comments:

Robin Coxon said...

Living in northeast Ohio, we have a beautiful "zoo"much like the one you describe in your poem. It is located in Cleveland, Ohio. We also have a great one in Toledo, Akron and Columbus. I enjoy seeing the animals living like they were meant to exist. My frame of mind tells me we should treat each animal like we would like to be treated and I don't know about you, but I wouldn't like to be locked up in a cage. It would really be depressing. Your poem is wonderfully written and what an honor to St. Louis's Zoo.

Unknown said...

I've been to several zoos, but my favorite has been the San Diego zoo. I love your poem. It shows your love for your hometown zoo

Debra Fulton said...

For our first Christmas together, my husband "adopted" the red panda at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse. After we moved to NJ, he did the same for the red panda at The Philadelphia Zoo. They are such adorable animals and I love to watch them play. A zoo date is my favorite thing to do and I try to visit one any time we go on vacation.

Victoria H said...

I love the polar bears & penguins.
I used to go to the Henry Doorley Zoo in Omaha when I lived in Nebraska.

cupcake58 said...

My favorite thing to do when on vacation is to visit a local zoo. I love seeing the animals and learning about them and where they are from. I know many people hate zoos and feel the animals should not be caged but I see how important it is to save them from poachers and the loss of their lands. Zoos that make habitats open and more like the animals lands are doing a good job along with the special breeding programs to continue the species are important.
I love seeing the big cats and watching them. The apes are fascinating to see and connect with. Polar bears are so beautiful to watch and I adore pandas. I'm so lucky to have seen a young panda at the San Diego Zoo. So beautiful and so cool to just stand and watch them. We got to feed rhinos and giraffes. I loved doing that.
I'm hoping someday to visit the St Louis Zoo. You make it sound so wonderful.
scarletbegonia5858(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda O. Johnston said...

Great post! I love animals, and I love zoos where they are taken care of well. My favorite these days is the Los Angeles Zoo. On visits in the past, I've had a male ostrich do his mating dance each time he saw me, and a kookaburra sang to me each time I visited him.

Cindy Silberblatt said...

This the first zoo I ever saw. My parents took us on vacation to St. Louis so we could see the zoo. It's a great one. I'd seen it on TV on "Zoo Parade" with Marlin Perkins. It was fun seeing it in person.

Froggie said...

I love visiting the zoo in Bundaberg (Queensland, Australia). It is the town I grew up in. They have Cotton top Tamarin's now and are very cute. It is also nice to see some Australian animals there too and the birds. The zoo in Rockhampton has Chimps. I would love to see a Sloth at a zoo. I think they are beautiful and be nice to see one at a zoo. The Alexandra Park Zoo & the Rockhampton Botanical Gardens & Zoo. My 2 daughters love going to the zoo too.

Michelle said...

Silly me, I thought that all zoos were the same. The Portland Zoo is supposed to be a good one, so it never crossed my mind that Denver would have anteaters or komodo dragons or those eyeless cave fish that I read about in a Trixie Belden book as a kid. Now I kinda want to take the kids to all of the zoos so we can see as many different animals as possible.

Rebecca Strahin said...

I love zoos but haven't Bern to one in a long time. I would love to go to the San Diego zoo.

cflathers said...

Totally love the St. Louis Zoo. Every couple of years we get to St. Louis and this is my first place to stop. I could spend hours in the penguin exhibit area and the last time I was lucky to be one of the first to see Kali. He was so much fun to watch and could have spent hours there also.

Mama2Catz said...

St. Louis does have a wonderful "animal amusement park," but I'm pretty proud of ours in Indianapolis. Right now we have a huge flock of macaws that fly freely over the grounds & always return to their aviary. They were trained in Florida & will return there for the winter.

Joanna Slan said...

Robin, I would not want to be locked up in a cage...but I would also not want to be the last of my species. The St. Louis zoo is at the forefront of keeping records for nearly extinct animals, breeding them, and returning them to their native environments. Also, the "cages" there are not like cages at all. If you haven't seen them, you wouldn't believe them. Yes, I feel badly that the animals are not free, but I also appreciate the fact that zoo visitors are struck with awe and wonder--and I pray, really pray, that visitors leave the zoo with a better commitment to be good stewards of our planet's lifeforms in all their diversity.

Marla said...

I love the giraffes. They are graceful and put me at peace to watch. I also love the polar bears. We had famous polar bears here in Denver in the early 2000's named Klondike & Snow!

lreiser said...

I live in Souhern Michigan and we visit the Toledo Zoo.

Cindy Gifford said...

Monkeys are my favorite! I have only been to the Philadelphia Zoo and Animal Kingdom.

Cindy Gifford said...

Monkeys are my favorite! I have only been to the Philadelphia Zoo and Animal Kingdom.

Joanne Kocourek said...

The best zoo I've ever visited is Disney's Animal Kingdom. Given travel to Disney World is extremely rare for our family, the best local zoo is Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, IL. We love taking our Granddaughter there. She Loves The Monkeys. My favorite is the Polar Bears. In The Summer THhey Play With Huge Blocks Of Ice.

Tanja Dancy said...

My favorite animal in the zoo is the panda bear. I think they are so cute and I love watching them eat and play.

Michelle Vandaley said...

That's an awesome poem!! I love all bears when visiting the zoo. The big cats are a fave also.

Billie Jackson said...

I have not been to too many zoos but I collect polar bears in many forms and single the animal I remember best was a polar bear at the zoo in Louisville. He would walk backwards, carefully placing one front leg directly behind the other and kind of bowing as he went. He did this over and over. It looked like he was dancing. I could have watched all day. It makes me so sad to see the bears in Houston because it is so hot but the tigers and lions have a great exhibit. My overall favorite animals to watch are the otter! What clowns.

Loved the poem, the heart is showed and the pride in your community and your zoo.

Berny said...

I LOVE the St. Louis Zoo and I'm not just saying that because it's the only one I've ever been to! ;) The fact that it cost nothing to get in is just icing on the cake. You really don't mind spending money that you didn't have to pay to enter, on other things in the park that helps with the upkeep of the animals.

My family and I love to go and walk around, ride the train and watch all of the amazing animals. I think I spend the most time visiting the bears, tigers and elephants. I could spend hours taking photos of them.

Loved the poem and can't wait to read about the zoo in Kiki#13.

Amy Lampert said...

The St. Louis Zoo is so amazing and such a source of pride for the city. I love it all except for the parking!

Tricia Conner said...

I have visited the zoo in The Lou two times. We loved trying to touch the sting rays. I love the meerkats, too.

At the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, MI I love the bird exhibit because we get to hold seed sticks. The birds land on you, maybe even more than one at a time!

Capybaras are so interesting. They are the largest rodent.

The pandas at the San Diego zoo are amazing.

The otters get me every time. I could just sit and watch them for an hour.

SR Adamson said...

We live in LA which has a pretty great zoo - our favorite animals there are the echidnas which we could watch for hours! My daughter's favorite visit recently included a chat with a volunteer about her journey across Australia tracking echidnas back in the 1930s! My favorite zoo growing up was Chester Zoo in the north-west of England where I lived. We visited regularly and I loved the elephants who frequently leaned out to dine on the Rose bushes just outside their enclosure.

Diana said...

always took my kids to the zoo...1st one I went to was at Ross Park in Pocatello, Idaho. Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City was great until I went to San Diego, which became my favorite. They all are trying to help us understand the animal kingdom. Thanks to all of them. Have not had the chance to see the St Louis one, but I'm glad to hear they do a fabulous job. Love your books, Joanna.

starlipermom said...

Growing up, I lived near Pittsburgh, so I've been to the Pittsburgh zoo a few times. I know live near the DC zoo. I've been to a really nice one in or around Kansas City, Missouri when I was young. But my all time favorite animal environment is Busch Gardens Tamapa Bay, FL. My favorite animal is the elephant.

lkleback said...

We love zoos! So far our favorites are Philadelphia and New Orleans.

Kathleen Kendler said...

Zoos are great. We enjoy many to include the Houston Zoo.

Joanna Slan said...

Diana, thanks for the compliment about my books.

Lori R said...

I like zoos a lot. My favorite is the Atlanta Zoo.

Mona Fulgham said...

I love polar bears since the birth of Klondike & Snow at the Denver Zoo. It is such a shame they are losing habitat.

jmcgaugh said...

I've been to the St. Louis zoo a number of times and always enjoyed it (not counting the heat on warm summer days!). My favorite thing about it is that it is free to everyone.

Aline Pack said...

I love animals yes in Toledo, Ohio we have a great zoological park. The Toledo Zoo, voted #1 zoo in the country a time or two. It was built during the Great Depression. We are known for are hippo aquarium. First of its kind with great filtration so we can see the hippo's underwater.
Our next best attraction is our polar bears. One of our youngest toddlers is going to St. Louis or Utah to help breeding. We have even had twins which is rare.
Loved your poem
Thank you for the chance ��

Joanna Slan said...

I have a confession to make. The first few years we lived in St. Louis, I never saw any animals. My son loved the train so much that each time we visited we went around and around without ever seeing the exhibits. How weird is that?

Andrea Stoeckel said...

Our local Zoo has one of the largest Humbolt penguin conservation efforts in the US. The Rosalind Gifford Zoo also is working to save Siberian Tigers and we have been active in helping save Elephants. In fact, our oldest Elephant- Siri, turned 50 this year and the Coynty Comissioner named it the Year of Siri! She and our former bull, who was recently swapped out to another Zoo, are the breed parents for many elephants around the country and in Canada. Our fairly new bull-Doc, is a retired circus elephant and quite 'frisky', already sireing 2 calfs.

And, up the ways a bit is a Wild Animal Park with animals like giraffes and the like that is primarily aimed towards kids.

Peggy Hyndman said...

I love the bears (especially the polar bears), all the birds, and most of the other animals but don't care for the reptiles. I enjoy going to both the Dallas and Fort Worth zoos, especially when my grandchildren are with me because they get so excited and animated. Thank you for the chance to win this awesome prize!
peggyhyndman(at)att)dot)net

Krmerritt0206 said...

I love the Detroit Zoo in Michigan. The new Polk Penguin Conservation Center is awesome.

An excerpt from the website: Among the most spectacular features of the 33,000-square-foot facility is a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where visitors can watch as more than 80 penguins of four species explore their habitat. An underwater gallery with a vast acrylic window and two acrylic tunnels provides breathtaking views of the birds above, around and below, and allows guests to get nose to beak with the charismatic birds!

Inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s legendary Antarctic expedition and epic crossing of the Drake Passage.

Some additional websites: https://czaw.org/ (Center for Zoo Animal Welfare) and https://detroitzoo.org/animals/wildlife-conservation/ (Wildlife Conservation)

Linda Donahue said...

I haven't been to the one in St. Louis for awhile. I do love ours here in Indianapolis and my favorite exhibit is the dolphins.

Anonymous said...

Never been to St Louis, but do like zoos this polar bear is sooooo cute

Anonymous said...

Such a fun giveaway, as everyone else, there is something special with polar bears. I would love to make a home for this one😍😍

Jeannie D. said...

We have a pretty nice zoo in Knoxville, however I missed when they took out the polar bear enclosure. My favorites are the red pandas and the snow leapords. I grew up in the Greater Concinnati area and the Cincinnati Zoo will always be my favorite zoo.

Catherine Ojalvo said...

I live near Washington D.C. and we have the National Zoo.It is a wondrrful place with many different exhibits.We do have a polar bear.When my kidd were little,it was one of our favorite places to go.It is near Rock Creek Park so there are lots of shady areas for pic-nics.We have lots of great family meemories!

J. O'Neal said...

I wish I lived closer to a wonderful zoo. My dream is to go to San Diego Zoo. Putting the St. Louis Zoo on my bucket list.

Simply Shannon said...

I love the Audubon Zoo and Park in New Orleans. Great memories of my girls riding a camel there. Our family took Amtrak to New Orleans for a long weekend. Thank you for making me remember today!

Lillian Crouse said...

We have a zoo a few miles from us. But I have not been there for about 5 years. The stuffed bear is so cute! And would go perfect with my bear collection.

Anonymous said...

My zoo is the Roger Williams Park and Zoo in Rhode Island. My husband and I, before we married, went there regularly to see the
Elk. It has been so long since we moved to another state and went on with our lives (married 55 yrs) that now we still toast the Elk for their contribution to our "courtship". Thanks for the memories of that time.

tashia jennings said...

My husband having put in 24 years in the Air Force, we did a lot of traveling. Was able to visit many zoo's throughout the US. Our favorite was in Anchorage, Alaska. We lived there for 10 years. Hubby volunteered there.
I absolutely love polar bears. Always said if I was a shifter I would want to be a polar bear, that or a white wolf.

Paula said...

I'm lucky in that I live in Salisbury, Maryland and we have our own small zoo. My favorite animal there is the peacock. We don't have any polar bears, but I did see them in the Central Park Zoo long ago.

MizB said...

The only zoo I remember growing up in Chicago was the Brookfield Zoo here in Illinois. Going to the zoo as a child I was exposed to all the animals there that I had only seen in books. Since then the zoo has made many upgrades for the animals, added shows and displays. I have always loved the elephants and dolphins.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a favorite zoo but I love your poem. Being a lover of animals, I love all of God's creatures.

Terrie allison
tallison21@aol.com

Jackie Wisherd said...

I'm from the San Diego area and I always thought our zoo was the best in the world but I'm just glad that there are wonderful zoos all across our country. My favorite animals to see are the zebras.

Lyn Soulia Smith said...

I am 54 and have only been to one zoo in my entire life.. pretty sad. I love elephants. They are gentle giants. One of the animals that will take over another's baby and make it their own, if something happens to its parent. Pretty awkward to ride on as well.

ceblain said...

Your poem is amazing. Our favorite local zoo is in the town next to where we gave lived for ten years (since we retired and moved to this area.) The Southwick Zoo here in MA us wonderful. It is family owned and operated and is such a wonderful place to go for the day. We are very lucky to have such a clean and responsible business in our area. The animals are well cared for and it us obvious in many ways. I love the previous panda bears and also the monkeys. The monkeys are so entertaining and amusing with their antics. They are definitely mood boosters. My 6 year old granddaughter would be delighted with your giveaway. She is the grandchild who enjoys going to the zoo more than any child that I have ever seen. Thank you.
Cynthia
ceblain (AT) tmlponline (DOT) net

Sandra McMahon said...

My favorite zoo is the Toronto zoo. It's huge and has so many animals. My favorite are the frogs. I've always loved looking at all the different types of frogs ... maybe I was looking for one to turn into a prince! Lol!☘

ALYSSA WEINZAPFEL said...

St. Louis Zoo is by far my favorite zoo.

Theresa N. said...

Brookfield Zoo in Chicago has always been my favorite.
Theresa N
weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

Ann707 said...

I enjoy watching all of the animals. I like to go visit the zoowhen we visit different places.

Margie said...

Audubon Zoo in New Orleans,LA is my favorite. It is a really large zoo in a very spacious and comfortable environment. There is lots to see and do and even a good bit of hands on exhibits. I love the food at the little cafes inside the zoo. I always get the shrimp etoufee. It is delicious. There are beautiful large oaks all through the zoo which makes for a pleasant walk in the shade as you view all sorts of zoo animals. My most favorite animal to visit there is the super friendly and absolutely adorable anteater. Also the thing that I always make sure to go and see there is the famous Loup Garou. It is a must see! If you have never heard of it then you must look it up! It is basically a swamp monster (not a real live one of course). It has seashells for teeth, neon bug lights for eyes, human hair hanging from its elbows, and it's claws are actually nutria teeth! Audubon is a very fun zoo! If I lived closer I would go every week!
Margie

Lujuana Miller said...

I think this story is great! I also think the stuffed polar bear is sooooo cute.

wen budro said...

I loved the poem. The little bear is super cute. I've only been to the Los Angeles Zoo.

Richard Brandt said...

I'm rather fond of the Brownsville Zoo in Texas. They had a canal running through the zoo stocked with fish, which would flop halfway up the bank begging for food.

Terezia Edwards said...

I'm being a traitor to my 2 local zoo's but I still love my one visit to the San Diego Zoo. Lush green environment and lots of animals. My favorite animal is the black panther.

Joanna Slan said...

I'm beginning to think that I should make a list of all the zoos here, because I really did NOT know about a lot of them. I'm intrigued by the wide variety of animals that y'all love. I guess we are a group of animal lovers, eh?

Joanna Slan said...

Margie's reference to the Loup Garou intrigued me. I think I'll devote an entire post to it!

Mary said...

I was never much of a zoo lover until my parents moved to STL when my kids were little. What a treasure that zoo is! We've been there in the heat of summer, and for the Zoo Lights at Christmastime. My kids grew up visiting that zoo and we LOVE it. My son and his family have been members for years, and my granddaughter got to go to zoo camp with the big cats one summer. We love that place even tho walking it has gotten harder and harder. One hot summer day my four-year-old son desperately wanted to see the polar bears, who understandably were staying cool in their caves. He came up with a complete fantasy to tell his grandparents that is still part of our family lore!
Your Michigan connection..... m2

Dianne Casey said...

I live in the suburbs of Chicago and we have two great zoos. The Lincoln Park Zoo in the city of Chicago and The Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield IL. They both have great things to off and make a great outing.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Dianne Casey said...

I live in the suburbs of Chicago and we have two great zoos. The Lincoln Park Zoo in the city of Chicago and The Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield IL. They both have great things to off and make a great outing.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Catherine Griffin said...

I love the poem. It tells it like it really is. Kudos to you, the author. You asked about my favorite "zoo" or animal habitat, I have to say it is nature's own zoo. I am fortunate to see many of nature's creatures where I live. We have all types of birds from hummers to eagles. I also have a bird refuge and nesting area not far from I live. We also have deer, otters, coons, gators, armadillos and much more to numerous to mention. I could go on, but I think you get the idea of how much I enjoy my "zoo". Oh, I live in Cross, SC, on Lake Moultrie, not to far from Charleston, SC.

Cheryl Corbitt said...

My favorite zoo animal is the zebra! I was able to see a dazzle of zebras five years ago when I was in Kenya on a mission trip. I moved to the Milwaukee area three years ago. The Milwaukee Zoo only has one sad and lonely little zebra.

daydreamer1008 said...

Loved the poem! I would have to say my favorite zoo animal is either the otter or baby goats (where we have a petting zoo for the goats). I'm in love with both species because they're so cheerful and cuddly. They manage to brighten up my mood whenever I see them. :)

Lyn S said...

My favourite zoo was the viperium in Bangkok, where I got to be draped by a python which was longer than I am tall

Anonymous said...

While it is not a zoo, I like to visit the Polar Expedition at Seaworld Orlando and watch the penguins swim around their habitat.

Tracy Barcus said...

wonderful! we are 'zoo' lovers and have been to quite a few. Interestingly the Kansas City zoo is also very nice, maybe Missouri has a secret? I love the Phoenix zoo and all the staging.My favorite zoo ever is Safaripark Beekse Bergen, because it's the only safari park I've been too and I thought a giraffe might eat my brother. It didn't.

Cheryl Nichols said...

Haven't been to many . But I love the elephants & rhinos and the reptiles area . More than zoos I like the drive through habitats and seeing them be more natural . I also love the wild birds .

Mindy said...

I haven't been to too many zoos, The best by far however was Disney World's Animal Kingdom. I LOVED watching the animals roaming as free as possible while the humans were driven around in Safari type jeeps. Thanks for the chance to win :)

Joanna Slan said...

Cheryl Nichols, you won! I used a random number generator to choose your name. Please email me at JCSlan@JoannaSlan.com so I can get you your stuffed polar bear.

Joanna Slan said...

Thank you all for your fascinating comments. I'll try to get together a list of zoos, so that zoo lovers can take note.