The Detroit Zoo is a place Robin and I used to frequent when we first started dating, and it’s one of the best zoos we’ve ever visited. Even in the years we didn’t have time to visit, we maintained memberships so that we could help support the zoo’s conservation and rehabilitation efforts. I don’t typically write about zoos, but the Detroit Zoo is different from the average zoo, as its focus is on animal rescue and either rehabilitation and reintroduction, or quality of life care for animals that are too injured or too abused by previous “owners” to be rehabilitated, rather than exploitation. The zoo has animals that were saved from circuses, injured by cars or hunters, or illegally trafficked from around the world and formerly abused, who can now live out the remainder of their days in safety and comfort. Read on to learn more about the fantastic work the Detroit Zoological Society does for animals, amphibians, and reptiles from around the world to ethically care for them and promote healthy wild populations.
Please note, that as always, all photographs in this post were taken by me, however some of these images are older from when I still watermarked my photos.
The Detroit Zoo
Location: Royal Oak, Michigan
Address: 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067
Admission: $19 per Adult Ticket
Hours: See hours here
Parking: $8 per vehicle
Detroit Zoo Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation
The volunteers at the zoos are a wellspring of knowledge about the animals who live at the Detroit Zoo, and how they came to reside at the zoo. For example, the Royal Family of Qatar receive a male lion named Simba more than a decade ago, and realized the animal needed much better care than they could reasonably provide such a majestic animal, so they asked the Detroit Zoo to take on the lion, who now lives with two lionesses, one that was rescued from a junkyard somewhere in Kansas, and another that was born somewhere in Arizona. Simba, the male lion, like the other two lionesses, cannot live in the wild, but they can help ensure genetic diversity in lion populations that do or eventually will live in the wild by helping to create lion cubs that will be reintroduced into the wild, where they all belong.
Other animals have been rescued from around the world and found a safe home at the zoo, like the ring tailed lemurs that were found running around Sacramento, CA, one of the zoo’s otters was abandoned by its mother and left alone and unable to fend for itself, an African Tortoise was found walking around Detroit by a zoo keeper more than 6,000 miles from its natural habitat, and other animals who cannot survive in the wild are taken in when smaller zoos close around the world. The zoos massive Bald Eagles were hit by a truck somewhere near Alaska, and can neither longer fly nor survive outside the zoo, so now they live in an open air enclosure and receive the care they need to thrive.
Read more stories of rescue and conservation about animals like flamingo chicks, endangered Piping Plovers who live along the shores of Northern Michigan, threatened bat species, falcons, swans, penguins, and so many more, as well as how the zoo helps clean up the environment during environmental emergencies both domestically and abroad, like when the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill happened in 2010. The zoo has also rescued polar bears from abuse in circuses, and a trio of bear cubs after a hunter murdered their mother and left them to die alone in the wilderness. The Isle Royale Wild Wolf population is finally growing because of the efforts of the DZS, and the DZS works tirelessly on dozens of other incredible animal causes, many of which you can read about here. Thanks to the Detroit Zoological Society, these precious animals are still alive, and thousands more have either found rehabilitation, temporary homes, or a path back to the wild and are now thriving.
Education at the Detroit Zoo
Signs around the zoo state if an animal is endangered, threatened, etc. and discusses actionable ways people can help support wild populations, which is just one of the zoos many education initiatives. The Detroit Zoo also encourages volunteering and many of the staff are highly trained volunteers who work amongst world-class zoologists, ecologists, animal behavior specialists, climate engineers, and more to better the lives of the animals who can’t live anywhere else. Even the glass at the zoo that comprises windows and some exhibits are all made of safety glass and marked with stickers to help prevent bird collisions, with accompanying signs that explain why this work is important.
The Detroit Zoo also takes action to help the environment by no allowing single use plastics anywhere within the zoo, they encourage recycling or composting everything purchased from concession stands and other refuse, and the zoo hosts educational activities for those who want to learn more and get involved in their communities. Several thousand species of birds, animals, reptiles, and amphibians live at the Detroit Zoo.
In part 2, I will write about my favorite part of the zoo, the aviary and conservatory, home to beautiful tropical flowers and colorful, exotic birds.
x Annie Fairfax
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