The thing STL does best is provide intimate, affordable venues and experiences. While St. Louis might not have a giant aquarium or SeaWorld venue, we excel at making encounters with wildlife accessible and personal. The St. Louis Aquarium is one of the city’s quirky but friendly institutions, but it’s currently in flux. Luckily, the St. Louis Zoo has several pockets of aquatic life to explore while you wait to see what the Aquarium’s future holds.
Stingrays At Caribbean Cove
St. Louis Zoo

Date: Through October 4

Open only during the warm-weather months, the Stingrays at Caribbean Cove exhibit is one of the Zoo’s most exciting new interactives. A $4 admission charge will get you into the Caribbean Cove, a 17,000 gallon pool of warm salt water with waterfalls and scenery reminiscent of a Caribbean island vacation. Children (and young-at-heart adults) love to dangle their hands in the water, hoping a stingray will touch them on its way past, and sometimes visitors even get to feed the docile creatures. The ray’s stinging barbs are kept trimmed, so it’s safe to touch them. Some gentle sharks are also on display in this area.

Sea Lion Show
St. Louis Zoo

Date: Through September 7, 2015 at 10:30 a.m., 1p.m. and 3 p.m., every day; 4:30 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in summer. After September 7,  weekends only until November 29, 2015.

St. Louis families love the sea lions at the Zoo. Their daily feedings at Sea Lion Sound have been a Zoo highlight for decades, but the show is when the sea lions really get to be in the limelight. These smart, powerful creatures show off their Olympic-style dives, superfast swimming skills, high-jumps and flipper walks, and, of course, ball-balancing. In between lots of splashing and the rock-star performances, the trainers sneak in a lot of education about the animals and their ocean habitat. Cost is just $4 per person.

Missouri River Aquarium At The River’s Edge
St. Louis Zoo

Date: Every day during regular Zoo hours

The River’s Edge is the Zoo’s first “immersive exhibit,” a lush environment populated with a crazy variety of animals, from hippos to capybaras. The aquatic portion of the exhibit is found in the Missouri River Aquarium, where you can get up close and personal with the unseen creatures that live alongside us every day. Gar, bluegill, and whiskered catfish dominate the tank. Above the surface, you can see beaver dams and crayfish, learn about some of the recent major floods, and discover the importance of wetlands to animal and human life.

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Live Coral Reef In The Children’s Zoo
St. Louis Zoo

Date: Every day during Children’s Zoo hours

The aquatic display inside the Children’s Zoo brings kids nose-to-nose with colorful tropical fish, sea anemones, and mesmerizing moon jellies. The live coral reef includes clownfish, peppermint shrimp, orchid dottyback, and neon goby, among other exotic breeds. All the fish come from captive-breeding facilities for sustainability. Another aquarium nearby houses freshwater fish, including flame and powder blue gouramis, rainbow fish, velvet swordtails, and tiger barbs.

St. Louis World Aquarium
City Museum
701 N. 15th St., 2nd Floor
St. Louis, MO 63103
www.worldaquarium.net

What’s going on with the World Aquarium inside the City Museum?  In March, the Aquarium was cited for a dozen violations following an inspection by the US Department of Agriculture. Shortly after the first inspection, the facility was able to pass a reinspection and the director announced that the Aquarium would stay open “at least through the summer” and that it would then re-open in a new location “sometime after Labor Day.” The news report at that time also stated that City Museum’s executive director had asked the Aquarium to leave, and quoted him as saying “If they’re staying open, they will not be staying at the City Museum.” On April 28, the Aquarium posted a cryptic Facebook message that read “We will miss you City Museum, Thanks for the memories.” It is unclear at this time how long the Aquarium will remain open in the Museum location, or where they might be moving.

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Lauren Haas was the founder and publisher of The St. Louis Area Family Gazette magazine. Now, Lauren is a full-time freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Visit her blog at http://www.thesoulofajourney.com.
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