Penguin and Puffin Coast at the St. Louis Zoo

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••• King Penguins at the St. Louis Zoo. Photo by Robin Winkelman, courtesy St. Louis Zoo

A trip to he St. Louis Zoo should include a visit to Penguin & Puffin Coast. The popular exhibit is home to nearly 100 oceanic birds from the far reaches of the globe. The outdoor part of the exhibit features Humboldt penguins, a threatened species found only along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru.

Inside the exhibit, there are two main areas to walk through. Penguin Cove is home to dozens of rockhopper, king and gentoo penguins.

The birds swim, feast on fish and "sun" themselves on the rocks. The second area is Puffin Bay. It has horned and tufted puffins from the Arctic. These birds like to play and splash around in the water. Get too close and you could get wet! Both inside areas are kept at a cool 45 degrees making them a popular destination on a hot summer day.

Penguin & Puffin Coast is open daily during regular Zoo hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Extended summer hours are from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission to the Zoo and to Penguin & Puffin Coast is free.

In addition to Penguin & Puffin Coast, other seasonal exhibits will soon be opening at the Zoo. The Sea Lion Shows begin each year in mid-March. There are two weeks of daily "spring training" shows at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets to these shows are discounted at $2 a person.

Regular shows begin on weekends starting in April, and then run daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Regular tickets are $4 a person. Children two and younger get in free. 

Also in mid-April, the Stingrays at Caribbean Cove opens for the season. Visitors can feed and pet dozens of southern and cownose stingrays, as well as several small sharks.

The animals circle around in a 17,000 gallon pool, making it easy to reach in and touch them as they swim by. Tickets to the stingray exhibit are also $4 a person, though children two and younger get in free.

For other ideas on what to see and do at the Zoo, check out the Top 10 Attractions at the St. Louis Zoo and Pictures from a Visit to the St. Louis Zoo.