One Tank Trip: St. Louis Zoo

ST. LOUIS (KFVS) - If you would love to go on a jungle safari, we have an affordable adventure for you not far from the Heartland.  You can make friends with a stingray, chase dozens of butterflies, and watch penguins swim inches from your nose.

"It splashed in my face but I didn't cry," said 4-year-old Brian Karshner of Cape Girardeau. He's talking about the stingrays in Caribbean Cove. This year, the exhibit features sharks.

We caught up with the Brian, his sister Laura Beth, his mom Amy and their baby-sitter Maddie Rupke during their visit to the zoo.

"It's one of the most popular exhibits this year," said St. Louis Zoo, director of education, Louise Bradshaw.

"The coolest part is that in this pool they never bite when you touch them," said 7-year-old, Laura Beth. "They are really smooth and soft."

It's a rare opportunity to reach out and touch the animals. We learned not only is it fun for little kids and big kids to get a closer look at them. The stingrays like checking us out too.

"I was surprised that they kept coming around to be touched," said Maddie. "They told us they are very social animals."

"We like to say you're not at the zoo, but in it," said Bradshaw.

From the stingrays, we went on to Penguin and Puffin Coast. This is one cool exhibit, literally. On a hot day, this is the place to be with temperatures year round between 45 and 50 degrees!

"You go inside and see our Antarctic penguins and you have the opportunity to watch them swim right along next to you," said Bradshaw.

Again, Brian and Laura Beth find themselves eye to eye with nature.

The zoo also offers a number of camps and programs for children of all ages. Find out more by checking out this link.

The penguins and stingrays are just two of dozens of opportunities to learn and experience nature. Other popular spots are:

 -Big Cat Country

-The Fragile Forest

For the Karshner's and other families, they tell me visiting the St. Louis Zoo is like learning without even knowing it. For them, this one tank trip was a way to discover a world's worth of nature not far from their own back yard.

"I touched a hammerhead shark and it felt really good," said Laura Beth.

If you want to know more information and directions to the zoo from your home, check out the St. Louis Zoo on the web.

Meanwhile, if you want to leave your suggestion for a One Tank Trip, contact Holly Brantley.

Copyright 2011 KFVS. All rights reserved.