Encounter Missouri’s Wildlife
Sometimes kids' brushes with nature are limited to the family dog and the squirrels that commandeer the birdfeeder. Yet, not too far beyond our own backyards, plenty of amazing creatures await.
Gasp with wonder at the stars of Eagle Viewing at Montauk State Park. This Salem park is home to a robust population of majestic American bald eagles. Feb. 4 and 18, meet the park's naturalist to learn about the lives and nesting patterns of our national bird; bald eagles are actively tending their nests this time of year. Pile on the clothing for what's likely to be a chilly event, and get an up-close glimpse of the eagles through the park's binoculars and spotting scope... or take your own spotting equipment. Free coffee and hot chocolate will help keep everyone warm for these unforgettable mornings of eagle viewing.
This event at Montauk State Park is sure to pique your family's interest in wild birds, so build on that excitement with a trip to World Bird Sanctuary. Located in Valley Park, this 305-acre sanctuary provides a safe, healthy haven for dozens of bird species. Take the family on a self-guided tour of the grounds and see hawks, falcons, eagles, vultures, owls and parrots – plus reptiles and various mammals. World Bird Sanctuary is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., making it easy to visit on any trip to the St. Louis area.
In Springfield, hundreds of animals call the Dickerson Park Zoo home. You will call it “the perfect family outing,” thanks to 55 acres of fascinating creatures and beautifully replicated natural habitats. Dickerson Park Zoo's inhabitants hail from all over the globe – from right here in Missouri to Africa and tropical Asia. Laugh at the antics of the playful river otters, marvel at the gigantic Asian elephants, and serve a giraffe a snack on an elevated feeding platform. This time of year the zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Your family can see fascinating species at Promised Land Zoo in Eagle Rock. Experience the exhilarating fun of a safari, by taking a driving tour of this four-mile animal park and petting zoo. Kangaroos, zebras, camels, antelope and other exotic animals await. Also, Promised Land is home to many rescued, large reptiles and tropical birds; visitors' donations go toward these animals' care.
After enjoying the great diversity of fauna in Missouri’s wildlife preserves and zoos, check out the equally marvelous flora at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. Through Feb. 27, join the garden in celebrating rainforests and 50 years of the Climatron. Find hands-on activities for every family member inside the Brookings Interpretive Center, where kids love playing learning games, seeing a puppet theater, solving puzzles, and delving into the “stories behind the science.” Missouri Botanical Garden scientists do crucial work all around the world, and these interactive exhibits give their work relevance to all generations.