St. Louis Zoo To Open Animal-Themed Hotel

St Louis zoo hotel penguins
Flickr, Jorge Rodrigo Gonzalez

The St. Louis Zoo has some major expansion plans in store for the next several decades, including an open savannah, a gondola crossing the park, a formal restaurant and a boutique hotel. The Missouri zoo will be making big changes to their existing park and developing a new site, bringing the total campus to over 100 acres, and creating new animal habitats and attractions. Don’t get ready to book yet, the full strategic plan is not due until the end of 2014, and construction could still be well into the future.

Where else can you overnight with animals, even if you don’t have kids?
Cincinnati Zoo has several after-hours options for families and kids, such as family camping outside the giraffe exhibit or inside the manatees building. You can even travel with the zoo on an African safari to Kenya.

Cleveland Zoo has a variety of fun overnight programs for children, but the adults have the option of a cash bar and make-your-own s’mores in the summer months. Costs are $90 to $300, depending on tent size.

The Houston Zoo Wild Winks program is primarily for children, but private events can be arranged. Want to sleep without the fishes? On November 1, adults can attend the annual Feast with the Beasts fundraiser event with 80 local restaurants providing food and drinks, animal appearances, and a performance by Smash Mouth. The zoo also hosts trips to Yellowstone, Alaska and Kenya.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park regularly offers “roar and snore” overnight camping excursions for children and families, and an “adults-only” option where you can learn animal facts for mature audiences only. Tickets range from $140-$264 per person, depending on age, membership, and tent size.

The Washington National Zoo hosts adults only for summer snore & roars including wine and cheese and an after-hours tour. Families and kids can choose their favorite animal or regional tour, from Amazonia to chimpanzees, but eat before you arrive, dinner is not on the menu.

Whoops: Glitch in Apple Maps Keeps Telling Drivers to Cross an Airport Runway

Bill Abbott, Flickr

Since the advent of GPS and the access to it on our smartphones, many of us have completely given up on doing any navigating ourselves. We set our destination, we press “route” and we sit back and do whatever the nice voice tells us to do. No matter where it takes us.

But a recent glitch in Apple maps might have you rethinking that kind of behavior. Fairbanks International Airport had to close an access route because not only one, but two people, were so blindly following directions that they followed a taxiway and crossed a runway before they realized what they were doing.

Apple has temporarily fixed the problem by having a “not available” message pop up for the route. The company has gotten a lot of flack for previous map issues, and after buying up several map applications, CEO Tim Cook has promised that Apple is “doing everything we can to make Maps better.”

While we can all get mad at our iPhones for not giving proper instructions, just because we have access to GPS we shouldn’t lose our common sense. Pay attention when you drive, and if you find yourself nearing an airport runway, consider making a U-turn.

A Bear Walks Into a Bar in Juneau, Politely Leaves When Asked

AER Wilmington DE, Flickr

You have to be pretty rowdy and intoxicated to be asked to leave a bar. Or you just have to be a bear.

In Juneau, Alaska on Monday night a black bear walked into the downtown Alaskan Hotel & Bar. The bartender’s response? Ask it to leave of course.

RELATED: Pig in Australia Steals 18 Beers from Campers, Gets Drunk, Fights Cow

The hotel’s bartender Ariel Svetlik-McCarthy saw the bear, appropriately responded with a minor freakout and yelled, “No bear! Get out! No! You can’t be in here!”

Unlike raucous frat boys, the bear politely responded by turning around and leaving (you can watch the video of it doing so). Or maybe he just didn’t see his favorite IPA on tap.

The story is reminiscent of other animal-booze run-ins over the last couple of months. There was the beer-drinking pig in Australia, and another bear who hit up a bar in Colorado and was also caught on surveillance video. Sounds like animals are just in need of a cocktail right now.

All jokes aside, animal encounters of this kind are taken seriously; state officials have had to kill two bears in Juneau this year for causing a nuisance.

Bear Walks Right Into Alaskan Bar

PuppyCam Returns To Denali National Park

PuppyCam lets us look in on the Denali sled dog pups
National Park Service

One of the annual rites of spring in Denali National Park is the welcoming of a new litter of sled dog pups to the official kennels there. This is soon followed by the launch of the park’s PuppyCam, which not only provides a daily dose of cute, but also allows us to watch the new pups as they begin to grow.

This year’s litter consists of three puppies born to a 6-year-old female named Sultana. She was also born and raised in the Denali kennels and has proven herself to be a strong lead dog and good mother over the years. The father is a dog named Typhoon who belongs to another kennel in nearby Eagle, Alaska. He is said to be an incredible lead dog as well, and some of his traits will hopefully be passed along to his new offspring. The pups, two males and one female, are named Munter, Prusik and Clove, and while they are just a month old today, they are beginning to display their own unique personalities.

Sled dogs are vitally important to operations at Denali NP. Without them the rangers would not be able to patrol the park during the long winter months when traveling by car can be very difficult, if not impossible. In order to keep their dog teams strong and replenished, each year one of the females is allowed to have a litter and the new pups are raised from birth to work as part of the park’s sled dog team. They might not look like it now, but in a few years, Munter, Prusik and Clove may well take their place as part of the proud tradition of the Denali sled dogs.

For now, we’ll just get to enjoy watching them romp around the kennel with mom. Check out the Denali PuppyCam here.

Four Down Two Across: Coming Home From Alaska

Stephen Greenwood, AOL

Back home safe and sound in New York, where the sun rises and sets at “normal” times!

On my last night in Alaska, someone asked me what my favorite part of the trip had been. I thought hard … and couldn’t point out one day or thing above the rest. Robert had the same reaction. The whole trip was a blast – one of our best road trips ever.

Perhaps what we liked the most, though, was the people we met – gracious, interesting and incredibly hospitable. Maybe that’s because of the table tennis connection more than Alaska. But everyone we met, to a person, was intensely proud of their state, with a stronger sense of pride than I’ve experienced anywhere else. They say once you visit Alaska, you never come all the way back.

And now, after this trip, I can say I’ve been to all 50 states.

Regarding yesterday’s puzzle from the chancellor, the answer, not surprisingly, is Alaska – around July 15, give or take, depending on where exactly you are in Alaska. But how is it possible for the sun to set twice in the same place in one day?

Well, during the winter in northern Alaska, the sun actually sets after midnight (and rises a few hours later). Then after the summer solstice, around June 22, the sun starts setting earlier (and rising later) by a few minutes each day. On July 15 in Fairbanks, the sun sets at 12:01 a.m., and then sets again at 11:57 p.m. Voila! Two sunsets in one day.