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Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo is located in Royal Oak, Detroit, Michigan, spanning 125 acres and housing more than 2,000 animals and more than 245 species. It was the first U.S. zoo to feature bar-less habitats and is regarded as an international leader in animal welfare, conservation, and sustainability by the Detroit Zoological Society.


The original Detroit Zoo opened in 1883 on Michigan and Trumbull Avenues, across from Tiger Stadium. William Cameron Coup’s circus had arrived in town but succumbed to financial difficulties. Luther Beecher, a local businessman, financed the purchase of the circus animals and erected a building for their display called the Detroit Zoological Garden. The Zoo closed the following year, and the building was converted into a horse auction site (the Michigan Avenue Horse Exchange).

The Detroit Zoological Society was founded in 1911, but the Zoo’s official opening did not occur until August 1, 1928. During the opening ceremony, acting Mayor John C. Nagel was to speak. He arrived late and parked his car behind the bear dens, where a polar bear leaped from its moat toward him. Nagel stuck out his hand and walked toward the polar bear joking, “He’s the reception committee.” The keepers rushed the bear and forced him back into the moat, leaving the mayor uninjured.

By 1930, the zoo included Bear Dens and Sheep Rocks, a Bird House, the Elk Exhibit, the Baboon Rock, and Primate and Reptile houses.

National Amphibian Conservation Center

The National Amphibian Conservation Center is a $7 million, 12,000-square-foot facility situated on a two-acre Michigan wetland area and pond called “Amphibiville.” The Center opened in June 2000 and has a diverse range of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians. The Wall Street Journal dubbed the attraction “Disneyland for toads.” The Center participates in research and conservation efforts for species, including the Panamanian golden frog, Puerto Rican crested toad, and Wyoming toad.  In 2002, the Zoo was awarded the AZA National Exhibit Award for Amphibiville. M&H Pest Control Detroit

Cotton Family Wold Wilderness

The Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness is a $1.4 million two-acre sanctuary with native meadows and trees, a flowing stream and pond, dens, and elevated rock outcroppings, for two gray wolves. The habitat also incorporates a renovated historic log cabin on the property.

Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat

The Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat provides a habitat for North American river otters and features a 9,000-gallon pool with a waterfall and waterslide. The pool is enclosed by a glass wall and an observation building. The habitat affords visitors – including small children – an eye-level view of the otters as they swim.

Address: 8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, Detroit, MI

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