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June 14, 2024

Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park Projected to Generate Over $660 Million in Regional Economic Impact Within 10 Years

New fly-through rendering video and an economic impact report released

St. Louis, MO (June 14, 2024) Today, Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park released a new fly-through rendering video and an economic impact report projecting that the project will generate over $660 million in economic activity across the St. Louis region within the next 10 years.

“We are creating a place where endangered and threatened animals can thrive,” said Dwight Scott, Dana Brown President & CEO, Saint Louis Zoo. “But this report makes it clear WildCare Park will help the regional economy thrive too.”

WildCare Park, a safari park and conservation center under development in north St. Louis County, is expected to open to the public in 2027.

The economic impact report totals WildCare Park’s estimated operational expenditures, visitor spending both on and off site and the project’s larger impact on regional employment and wages, business sales and tax revenue through 2034.

The report estimates WildCare Park will generate:

  • Average attendance of 421,900 guests each year after opening with approximately 65% of guests originating from outside St. Louis City and St. Louis County.
  • WildCare Park guests will spend about $184 million at regional businesses outside of the safari park within the next 10 years.
  • An annual average of 384 jobs, which includes positions at WildCare Park and in the region.
  • A total of $97.3 million in governmental revenue, including $49.9 million in state and local tax revenues.

Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis Inc., applauded the combined economic impact of both the Saint Louis Zoo in Forest Park and WildCare Park in north St. Louis County, expected to total over $2.5 billion over the next decade.

“The Saint Louis Zoo alone already averages around $200 million of economic value annually, a number enhanced by its considerable cultural impact,” said Hall. “With the additional value WildCare Park brings to the metro, the Zoo will continue to act as an increasingly significant economic engine for our region.”

The development of WildCare park is estimated to cost $230 million funded through multiple sources, including philanthropy, external financing proceeds, which includes Zoo and Saint Louis Zoo Association cash reserves and tax revenue generated by Prop Z passed by St. Louis County voters in 2018. With the passage of Prop Z, St. Louis County residents will be able to experience WildCare Park admission-free.

“WildCare Park will bring with it a major tourism boost for our region and an economic boost for north St. Louis County,” said St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page. “The Zoo is a favorite of locals as well as a national tourist destination and WildCare Park will join the list of must-sees when in the St. Louis region.”

The report estimates that guests to WildCare Park will generate significant spending in a wide range of local industries.

“This project is an amazing opportunity for businesses in north St. Louis County,” said Rebecca Zoll, President/CEO North County Inc. “With around $184 million in off-site guest spending over the next decade, hospitality, retail, transportation and entertainment sectors will all get a significant boost.”

Even before WildCare Park opens to the public, the organization is staffing up with quality full-time positions and will post the job openings on its website here:

“We want WildCare Park to be a job creator within and beyond its gates for the region,” said Sabarras George, Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park Director. “As we grow, I look forward to seeing our region’s businesses do the same.”

Tourism Economics and Canopy Strategic Partners prepared the WildCare Park economic impact report based on analysis from the economic impact model IMPLAN. The operational spending accounts for expenditures from 2021 through 2034, which includes planning and development (2021 through 2026) and the first eight years of operations (2027 through 2034). The guest spending impacts are for the eight-year period from 2027 through 2034. Impact modeling is based on an IMPLAN input-output (I-O) model for two regions: City of St. Louis/St. Louis County and St. Louis, MO-IL metropolitan statistical area (MSA).

The economic impact report and more updates on WildCare Park are available at

About Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park

Located in north St. Louis County with a target public opening of 2027, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park features two completely different, but complimentary components. The first is what the public will experience: An outdoor adventure that sends guests on a safari through herds of animals roaming wild over gently rolling, grassy meadows and through native forests. The second component is the Kent Family Conservation and Animal Science Center, a dedicated conservation facility within WildCare Park designed to sustain endangered and threatened species, made possible by the generosity of the Jerry and Judy Kent Family. The 17 animals on site now live in the pastures and barns in this area, while the remainder of the barns and pastures are constructed.

Over the last two years, activity at WildCare Park has included demolition of a few older buildings, fence installation and grading around the perimeter of the property, restoration of 260 acres from golf course turf to native grasses, removal of honeysuckle and other invasive plant species, construction of barns and a utility building, and renovation of the headquarters building with a new observation deck.

The Zoo expects more than 250 animals will live on site by the public opening in 2027. For the public opening, the focus is on endangered ungulates — hoofed mammals such as Grevy’s zebra, addax, Somali wild ass, giraffe and white rhino — as well as kangaroos, birds and other threatened species.

Media Note: Hi-res images, video, renderings and photo captions available on Dropbox or by emailing A few highlights are below.