Discover Nature NotesMore posts

Theater in the WILD

Jul 30, 2018

Debbie Reynolds literally sang in the rain here. Most of the biggest stars of stage and screen have enjoyed the extra protein of Show Me state bugs and moths while performing. The Muny opera occupies six acres within Forest Park's 1,300 acres in St. Louis. It is the largest, greenest outdoor theater in the nation, in one of the largest urban parks. Stories have been told for years around campfires and the Muny is a special and unique extension of that tradition.

The Muny took shape 100 years ago between two giant oak trees in a natural bowl-shaped amphitheater with a river running through it. Early on there was "trouble right here in river city" as "ol' man river" Des Peres flooded during a thunderstorm and washed the orchestra's instruments away. Today the river has been tamed and offers a wetland show with mink and ducks for audiences in the park. Great care has been taken with the trees that grace the stage and surround the theater. One of the framing oak trees was lost in 2002 at 370 years of age. It's wood is now a boardroom table at the theater. Trees are often specially lit as part of the set for many shows.

The trees are also home to various wildlife in the park as well. A nesting family of raccoons would wander across the light bridge above the stage as if on cue on many nights to the delight of children, who always spotted them first, and their families. Random opossums would wander onto the stage and pause with rapt attention during musical numbers. And then wander off again. A great blue heron once swooped low over the crowd during one pivotal scene. Audiences have been delighted to the sights and sounds of squirrels, foxes, turtles, rabbits, ducks and birds in the park and around the shows. Like nature, there are free seats for every show. The Muny is a unique place where art and nature come together. Nature puts on a show all around the state with lots of wild antics, sounds and beauty to refresh and entertain. You can catch a wild show any season in Missouri.

Special thanks to Bill Borger and The Muny.

Forest Park Fun Facts

  • Forest Park opened in 1876 and is 1,293 acres.
  • It is 450 acres larger than Central Park in New York City.
  • Forest Park hosted the 1904 World’s Fair as well as the 1904 Summer Olympics.
  • The park welcomes 13 million visitors each year.
  • Nearly 45,000 trees can be found in the park.
  • In addition to The Muny, Forest Park is also home to the Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Art Museum.

Facts courtesy of Forest Park Forever and Explore St. Louis


Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl
A fledgling Great-Horned Owl grabs a seat at The Muny in Forest Park, St. Louis


Raccoons at The Muny
Raccoons at The Muny
Raccoons travel above the stage during a show at The Muny

Post new comment

Recent Posts

Photo of a gravid Mississippi grass shrimp in an aquarium.

Missouri's Freshwater Shrimp

Aug 13, 2018

Shrimp in Missouri, Who Knew?: Two types of freshwater shrimp can be found in Missouri's lakes and rivers. One is common and one is rare. The Mississippi Grass shrimp is small and transparent. The female pictured is carrying her eggs attached to swimmerets beneath her abdomen. The Ohio shrimp are larger and were harvested along the Mississippi river for food in the 1800's. They are rare today. Missouri's freshwater shrimp are important to fish and other wildlife and may live in the waters where you fish and boat. Learn more about them in this week's Discover Nature Note.

common eastern bumblebee

Pollinator Power

Aug 06, 2018

OUR NEED FOR BEES:  Without them, our produce aisles would be mostly bare. With less of them, harvest sizes will shrink and prices will soar.  Bees are essential for many of the foods we eat and nutrients we need.  Native bumblebees are intentional pollinators that do the most important work.  Learn more about bees, how you can help, and the amazing diversity we have in St. Louis in this week's Discover Nature Note. (Pictured:  Common Eastern Bumblebee)

Big Spring

Spring It On!

Jul 23, 2018

SPRING IT ON! Some of Missouri's most scenic places are along springs. Springs flow cool and constant from underground sources. Our ten largest springs release more than a billion gallons of water daily. The air around them is cooler and the scenery spectacular for photographs and memories. With fragile environments and cold temps, springs are not geared for swimming, but many flow into Ozark streams with a variety of swimming holes. Learn more about Missouri's most iconic springs and what you can see in and around them in this week's Discover Nature Note.


Field Guide

Discovering nature from A-Z is one click away


You had fun hunting, catching or gathering your quarry—now have more fun cooking and eating it.
Check out the recipes