Detroit Zoo offers wild holiday gift options; red panda cubs showcased

By Mike Fossano

If you’re looking to avoid the holiday blitz at the mall this holiday season, the Detroit Zoo is offering shoppers the chance to buy one-of-a-kind gifts this holiday season without the cumbersome rush that you’ll find at local malls.

Gifts and proceeds from Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) catalog sales will help support the animals at the Detroit Zoo.

The first option, a Detroit Zoological Society membership, provides the recipient with a year’s supply of “Vitamin Z” with free admission to the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo, free parking, discounts at Zoo gift shops and many other benefits. Prices range from $48 to $175. Residents of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties receive $10 off all categories and can purchase up to four gift memberships at the discounted rate.

An A.D.O.P.T.S. (Animals Depend on People to Survive) gift package includes a plush animal, photo, fact sheet, personalized adoption certificate and greeting card. The cost is $50 (regularly $70). Or, visit Zoofari Market on your next trip to the Zoo and, for a donation of $15, choose a plush and receive a certificate of adoption. Either way, a gift of A.D.O.P.T.S. helps to improve the Zoo animals’ habitats and provide veterinary treatment.

You also may contribute to the Adopt-A-School program in lieu of exchanging gifts and provide school supplies to the rural schools and children in the Amazon. Sponsor a child for $25 for a year’s supply of school materials or adopt an entire Peruvian school for $350.

Brick tribute pavers engraved with a special message are also available for purchase (cost is $100 to $1,000). A brass-finished laser-etched butterfly can be purchased to commemorate a birthday, wedding, anniversary or the life of a family member, friend or beloved pet (cost is $500).

Lastly, you can provide somebody with passes to attend Zoo Experiences such as Breakfast with the Butterflies ($300 per group of four), Breakfast with the Giraffes and Mingle with the Macaronis (each $500 per group of four), which allow visitors to get up close and personal with these Zoo residents. A Guided ZooTour ($100 per person) offers the opportunity to tour the Zoo with a knowledgeable docent on a zero-emission golf cart and visit the animals before the Zoo opens.

To order holiday gifts, visit or call (248) 541-5717.

Red panda cubs no longer play hide-and-seek at Detroit Zoo 

Two red panda cubs born in July can finally be seen in their habitat across from the tigers. Twin boys R.J. and Hammy were difficult to spot in the summer months due to all the leaves in their wooded habitat.

This is the perfect time to see and appreciate these cubs and other threatened species that thrive here, according to Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan.

Red pandas are skilled and agile climbers, spending most of their time hanging from tree branches or lounging on limbs and are most active in the early morning and evening hours.

Contrary to popular belief, the red panda isn’t a bear but rather belongs to its own family. It averages the size of a house cat, with rust-colored fur and an 18-inch, ringed tail.

Found in the mountainous regions of Nepal, Myanmar and central China, red pandas are classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species due to deforestation.

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