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Extra: An audio tour of the Penguin and Puffin Coast

Áine O'Connor
Véronique LaCapra greets a group of King penguins."

Following a conversation of the Saint Louis Zoo’s new polar bear exhibit with its curator of mammals, Steve Bircher, St. Louis Public Radio science reporter VéroniqueLaCapra and “St. Louis on the Air” producer Alex Heuer took a field trip to the nearby Penguin and Puffin Coast.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been to the zoo, and this opened up in March,” Véronique said. “But I have not yet had a chance to see it, so we’re going to take a sneak peek inside.”

Amid penguin-chirps and the shrieks of children splashed by errant flippers, Alex and Véronique navigated from the penguins’ rocky outdoor environment into the frigid, fishy indoor habitat, which reopened in early March after closing for the construction of Polar Bear Point.

“You can smell the penguins before you can see them,” Véronique said, but it’s hard not to be charmed as penguins toddle over the rocks and slip gracefully into the water, where they swim loops at eye-level. “I’ve never been at a zoo where you can get this close to them.”

Credit Áine O'Connor
The puffin habitat at the Saint Louis Zoo.

In the next half of the exhibit, puffins peered curiously at newcomers. “I think the puffins get short shrift sometimes,” Alex said. “Everybody wants to see the penguins, but for some reason puffins don’t get much love in St. Louis.”

Show the puffins the love they deserve after visiting polar bear Kali—the St. Louis Zoo’s new McDonnell Polar Bear Point opens to the public on Saturday, June 6.

Listen to Véronique’s conversation with Steve Bircher about the new exhibit on “St. Louis on the Air” at noon on Thursday, June 4.