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Polar Bear Point construction to start Tuesday at St. Louis Zoo

Polar Bear Point construction to start Tuesday at St. Louis Zoo


ST. LOUIS • Monday is the last day to view penguins and puffins at the St. Louis Zoo for at least the next year and a half.

The Penguin & Puffin Coast will close during construction of the Zoo’s $18 million Polar Bear Point, which begins Tuesday.

Zoo leaders approved on Thursday the final construction contract for their incoming polar bears. The zoo hired PGAV Destinations as architect, Alberici Constructors as construction manager and Rhodey Construction as general contractor.

Work on the new bear exhibit means the penguins and puffins area will close to visitors until the polar bear habitat is completed in 2015.

The birds — gentoo, rockhopper and king penguins, plus horned and tufted puffins — will remain in their current quarters. The popular $50-per-person behind-the-scenes tours of the exhibit will continue.

“While we regret that visitors will miss seeing the penguins, it is critical that zoos protect polar bears, which are declining in the wild and are highly vulnerable,” Zoo President Jeffrey Bonner said in a statement.

Some of the Zoo’s other bears have already been moved.

The new exhibit will more than double the space of the old polar bear pit, home to the bears since the 1920s.

Portholes in the fence around the area will let visitors track construction progress.

The Zoo will be open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday. After Labor Day, the Zoo’s hours return to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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