ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Zoo is planning ahead -- way ahead.
Zoo president Jeffrey Bonner on Friday announced major initiatives for the next 25 years for the free zoo in Forest Park.
Bonner announced plans for several upgrades over the next quarter of a century. They include building new exhibits for animals ranging from polar bears to sea lions; improving the facility's 100-year-old infrastructure; expanding the elephant exhibit; and expanding in areas like research, conservation and education.
Zoo officials don't yet have an estimate on the cost of the improvements.
The strategic plan was developed after two years of input from leadership and staff, the community and zoo experts.
"Our Strategic Vision Task Force looked at the infrastructure needs of a 100-year-old campus, as well as the needs of the zoo for the next 100 years to keep us among the nation's outstanding zoos," Bonner said.
Bonner said the zoo will seek private funding for the goals. Tax revenue and other general operating funds are used only for day-to-day operations, he said.
Among other goals, the zoo hopes to improve the visitor experience by meshing education with entertainment; to improve the work environment for employees; and to continue to develop financial relationships to keep the zoo among the nation's best.
Zoo officials also plan to keep the attraction free.
The zoo is home to nearly 23,000 animals representing about 800 species. About 3 million people visit the zoo each year. It is open every day except Christmas and New Year's Day.