Spring is finally on it’s way to Michigan. Warmer weather is in the forecast, and the snow will soon be gone. Spring is still a little too early to hit the beach, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors here until the water warms up. One way is by visiting Michigan’s many zoos and animal parks. Scattered throughout the state, each one offers something special you won’t find anywhere else.
Binder Park Zoo – Location: Battle Creek Stats: This 433 acre zoo features over 600 animals. Opens April 16th Highlight: Get up and close and personal with the giraffes in the Wild Africa exhibit by hand feeding them from a specially built platform.
John Ball Zoo – Location: Grand Rapids Stats: This urban zoo located on 140 acres is home to over 1100 animals. Open Now. Highlight: Has one of the country’s largest chimpanzee exhibits. During warm weather months it also has an outdoor area where visitors can touch stingrays and bamboo sharks.
Potter Park Zoo – Location: Lansing Stats: This capital city zoo is located on 58 acres and has over 450 animals. Open year round. Highlight: Alaskan Moose are one of the newest additions to the zoo. These animals made a 3,800 mile journey on a cargo plane from Alaska to Michigan.
Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park – Location: Alto Stats: This 80 acre park cares for several endangered animals with a focus on breeding and conservation. Highlight: Bison and Water Buffalo are among the many exotic animals on view.
Detroit Zoo – Location: Royal Oak Stats: 125 acres with over 2,500 animals on display. Open all year. Highlight: Watch Polar Bears as they swim above you in a specially designed pool in the largest polar bear exhibit in North America.
Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square – Location: Saginaw Stats: A smaller zoo with over 150 animals, this is a great place for families with young children. Opens March 28th. Highlight: Take a walk-a-bout through the Eastern Grey Kangaroo exhibit. Watch out, because one may hop by at any minute!
DeYoung Family Zoo – Location: Wallace Stats: This Upper Peninsula zoo with large, natural habitats features over 400 animals from around the world. Opens Memorial Day Highlight: This zoo has the largest Big Cat family in the Midwest with over 40 cats, including Siberian Tigers and the North American Bobcat.
GarLyn Zoo – Location: Naubinway Stats: Also in the U.P., this small, family owned zoo features hundreds of North American animals. Opens April 1st. Highlight: Several reindeer make their home at the zoo, and in spring there are often newborn calves on site.
Oswald’s Bear Ranch – Location: Newberry Stats: A unique animal sanctuary in the U.P. that provides homes for rescued bears in a natural setting. Opens Memorial Day Highlight: When bear cubs are on site you can pet them and have your picture taken with them.
Weather can be unpredictable in spring. If it’s too cold or raining, here are two indoor options in Michigan for viewing wildlife.
Belle Isle Aquarium – Location: Belle Isle State Park, Detroit Stats: Open every Sat. and Sun. with free parking and admission. Highlight: This historic landmark first opened in 1904. It features a variety of salt and freshwater fish.
Sea Life Aquarium – Location: Auburn Hills Stats: Over 5,000 underwater creatures on display in 120,000 gallons of water. Open daily. Highlight: One of Michigan’s newest attractions, you can watch creatures swim over head in a 180-degree ocean tunnel.