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ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), November 18, 2015 - The Saint Louis Zoo Association today announced it has an opportunity to purchase Grant's Farm from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust that owns the family attraction visited by over 25 million guests over the past six decades. The Zoo believes an expansion would allow them space for animal husbandry, research and breeding endangered species.
The sale would be contingent upon the Zoo's ability to generate enough funding to operate Grant's Farm in the future at the high standards the public has come to expect of both the Saint Louis Zoo and Grant's Farm.
The cost to purchase the property from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust is anticipated to be approximately $30 million. This is expected to be largely funded by a donation from Anheuser-Busch if the transaction moves forward. The site would be paid for by this donation - not by taxpayer revenue.
Anheuser-Busch currently leases the property from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust and has operated the attraction since 1954. The company said the potential donation would be made to both help the expansion of the Saint Louis Zoo and to entrust Grant's Farm's future to the care and guidance of the world-renowned Zoo.
Until any ownership change or in the absence of one, Anheuser-Busch will continue to lease and operate Grant's Farm as it has for the last 61 years. Anheuser-Busch will open Grant's Farm for the 2016 season this April.
In a release, Jeffrey P. Bonner, Ph.D., Dana Brown President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo said: "The Zoo's plan for this landmark institution involves keeping all the features that have made it a truly unique attraction for decades. We plan to make a great family experience even better with more animals and educational offerings."
"In addition, Grant's Farm's more than 250 acres would provide large spaces for animal husbandry, research, and breeding beautiful, majestic species that are endangered in the wild. We would provide opportunities for people to connect with nature through many new attractions that would establish Grant's Farm as a premier regional and national institution and as an internationally recognized research and conservation breeding center," stated Bonner.
Dr. Bonner said Zoo leadership firmly believes preserving this landmark institution would open up a great opportunity for the Zoo to grow and better serve the community through fun family educational experiences and the preservation of wildlife. "Many of the species protected by our Zoo and other accredited zoos will vanish in coming years unless conservation organizations find the space to increase species population sizes," he said.
"If we are successful in completing this acquisition, we would begin a multi-phase effort that would involve infrastructure improvements, enhanced educational and research programs, and of course, great new visitor experiences," Dr. Bonner added. "All this would benefit the long-term interests of the Zoo and Grant's Farm, our mission to preserve animals, our visitors and neighbors, and the citizens of our state and region."
Zoo leadership estimates that the Zoo would need $3.5 million to $8.5 million annually to operate the property, depending on the number of new attractions and new animal species.
The Zoo would also need additional private funding for infrastructure improvements and for the zoological management and support required. Public support, moreover, would help the Zoo continue to renovate and upgrade existing facilities on its campus in Forest Park - ongoing work that is critically important just to maintain its century-old infrastructure.
To assess public sentiment, the Zoo Association will employ a range of approaches, including town hall meetings, focus groups, one-on-one meetings and opinion polling. F. Holmes Lamoreux, chairman of the Zoo Subdistrict Commission, enthusiastically supports the potential acquisition, adding that the purchase could help the Zoo and Grant's Farm remain two of the region's top tourist attractions. "The Commission is thrilled that the Zoo Association is pursuing this purchase," he said. "The Saint Louis Zoo is not only a treasured institution but a major engine for economic growth in our region."
Grant's Farm Is Home to Wildlife Treasures
Almost a century ago, August A. Busch Jr.'s father purchased a piece of Missouri farmland once plowed and planted by Ulysses S. Grant. Today, the country estate of the Busch family, Grant's Farm, is preserved as a home for more than 1,000 exotic animals from six continents.
The beautiful oasis can be seen courtesy of Anheuser-Busch, Inc. An open-air Eisenbahn coach winds past Mirror Lake to Grant's Cabin, which was completed in 1856 and remains today as the only structure hand built by an American president. The fence across from the cabin was constructed from 2,563 rifle barrels as a Civil War memorial.
The coach travels through The Deer Park where more than 100 species of bison, elk and antelope to zebras, llamas and ostriches can be seen. You can pet and hand feed some of the animals and attend the entertaining, educational shows featuring African elephants, parrot and birds of prey at the Tier Garten Amphitheater. Admission is free. Bring your camera and take home special memories.
Grant's Farm is home to a breeding operation for the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales. The tour features an opportunity to see the Clydesdale sires, mares and foals up-close in their pastures next to the Clydesdale Stable.
Camel and pony rides and parakeet feedings are also available. As always, guests 21 and older can enjoy complimentary samples of Anheuser-Busch beers.
Grant's Farm offers once-daily Estate Walk Tours, which showcase the grounds of the Busch family estate while guides share details on the rich history of the property. Tours are available at 9 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday for $25 per person.
Admission to Grant's Farm, tram rides and all shows is complimentary.
* $12 per vehicle
* $30 for buses, RV's and oversized vehicles
* $40 for a season parking pass, available at the General's Store
* Stroller rental available
* Wheelchair accessible.
For information on brewery tours, see Anheuser-Busch.
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