Tag Archives: nature

Detroit Zoo Hosts Black-Crow​ned Night Herons

night-herons

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Wild black-crowned night herons have been perched in the treetops at the Detroit Zoo for about a dozen years, but have recently become a popular “unofficial” Zoo attraction as local bird watchers flock to take a gander.

Over the past 12 summers, the night herons’ original settlement has grown into a full-fledged rookery, hosting about 50 wild breeding pairs. With an abundance of food and safe nesting areas, the Detroit Zoo is a perfect breeding ground for the birds, according to Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Birds Tom Schneider.

“The herons just showed up here one year, were successful breeding, and have been coming back ever since,” said Schneider. “Local birders are delighted to be able to see this elusive species at the Zoo.”

The rookery is located behind the Sweet Treats concession across from the bear dens. Visitors know they are in the right place when they hear the distinct clicking calls the birds use to communicate with each other from the treetops.

The black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) is normally nocturnal, making it difficult to spot outside of the breeding season. During active nesting, which spans from May through July, daytime foraging is common and the birds can be observed flying to and from their rookery at the Detroit Zoo.

The night heron’s head is crowned with black feathers that extend down its back and contrast against the light-grey feathers that cover the rest of its body. Its beak is black and eyes are crimson. During breeding season, the bird’s legs change in color from yellow to pink, and two to three long white plumes extend down its neck.

The black-crowned night heron is classified as “special concern” by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory due to declining populations. The species is sensitive to wetland destruction and environmental contaminants.

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Renovated Belle Isle Nature Zoo Looks Like a Million

Belle Isle Nature Zoo

Belle Isle Nature Zoo

DETROIT, Mich. – The Belle Isle Nature Zoo has undergone more than $1 million in renovations, with improvements that include restoration of the facility’s infrastructure, eco-friendly updates and new landscaping. Years of use and harsh weather made the upgrades to the 1970s structure necessary.

“The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is an important part of our complex of facilities and programs. It was time to make some significant and necessary improvements to continue to provide a great learning environment for the community,” said Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director and CEO Ron Kagan.

  • Renovations to the Belle Isle Nature Zoo include:
  • New exterior siding, landscaping and a repaved and restriped parking lot.
  • Lobby improvements, including high windows that let in more natural light, guest service amenities and a kids’ “tree-trunk” reading nook.
  • New turtle habitat with recirculating and filtered pond water.
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the facility.
  • A new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, with the ability to monitor the system remotely.
  • Completely remodeled restrooms.
  • New security infrastructure.
  • Eco-friendly carpeting made with one-third recycled materials.
  • Fresh paint throughout the building using zero-volatile organic compounds paint.
  • New ceiling tiles with 30-percent recycled content.

The renovation project was co-developed and managed by the Detroit Building Authority and Detroit Zoological Society.

The Belle Isle Nature Zoo sits on a 5-acre site surrounded by undisturbed forested wetlands on Belle Isle in Detroit, Mich. The facility features indoor animal habitats, a bee exhibit, bird observation window, outdoor native butterfly garden, outdoor classrooms and the Blue Heron Lagoon nature trail. A Deer Encounter allows guests to feed the fallow deer while learning about their history.

Operated by the Detroit Zoological Society, the Belle Isle Nature Zoo is located at the east end of Belle Isle near the Blue Heron Lagoon. The Nature Zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., April through October, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., November through March; closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission is free. For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.

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Become a Member Today!

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House | Woodward SPine 2013

Edsel and Eleanor Ford House | Woodward Spine 2013

By Jeffrey Buck

I’ve written about this subject before but as I travel throughout the year to new places I am always reminded how important it is to support our local attractions. In hard times and in good these great places are always in need of local support to fund upkeep, special exhibitions and events. Detroit and its surrounding communities have an extensive amount of historical places that are great for local residents and tourists alike. I’m currently a member of the Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak Historical Society and the Henry Ford and want to continue to support others each year. Below is a list, by no means complete, of some of our great institutions you can support.

The Detroit Zoo | detroitzoo.org
The Detroit Zoo is located in Royal Oak, Mich. Memberships range from $43 to $160 depending on size of family and where you live. Open year round with hours that vary by season.

The Henry Ford | thehenryford.org
A membership gives you access to both the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Memberships range from $45 to $600. Members receive discounts to IMAX movies, the Ford Rouge Factory Tour and much more.

Pewabic Pottery | pewabic.org
Members receive discounts to the Museum Store and Galleries. This historic institution dates back to 1903 and is located on Jefferson Ave. Typical memberships range from $25 to $150.

Preservation Detroit | preservationdetroit.org
Preservation Detroit is known for its spectacular walking tours. A leader in the preservation of Detroit’s architectural history they offer several events throughout the year. Membership levels range from $20 for a student to $2,500 for the Founder’s Circle.

Detroit Institute of Arts | dia.org
The DIA has one of the greatest collections of art. Although supported by the tri-county area you can still become a member. Membership dues are $60 and up.

Motown Museum | motownmuseum.org
The Motown Museum does not currently offer memberships but can be supported through its Annual Fund. The historic set of houses on Grand Blvd. are a Detroit landmark. The museum also accepts the donation of artifacts.

Meadow Brook Hall | meadowbrookhall.org
Open year round this National Historic Landmark is a gathering place for many throughout the year. Memberships start at $100 and include admission, discounts and more. Meadow Brook is also always looking for volunteers.

Detroit Historical Society | detroithistorical.org
Having just gone through a large-scale renovation there’s no better time to become a member. Membership levels start at $25 for the “Researcher” level. Become a member of the Dossin Maritime Group for an extra $20.

Royal Oak Historical Society | royaloakhistoricalsociety.com
This Detroit suburb offers great exhibits in a former fire station. Single memberships are $10 and a family membership is $18.00. Members receive free admission to the museum as well as newsletters and special event alerts throughout the year.

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House | fordhouse.org
Located on 80 acres of lakefront property, this historic home is absolutely gorgeous. Members enjoy many benefits starting at just $25 for a Grounds Pass. Enjoy a guided home tour as well as an iPod Touch tour of the grounds.

Michigan Science Center | mi-sci.org
Formerly the Detroit Science Center, this family friendly attraction is better than ever. Memberships start at $35 for students and only $75 for a Family. Benefits include free admission, discounted IMAX admission and many more discounts.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History | thewright.org
Become a member of the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African American experience for as little as $25 for a college student and $65 for a family. Located near the Michigan Science Center and DIA, make a day out of all three.

Belle Isle Conservancy | belleisleconservancy.org
For as little as $10 you can become a member of a group dedicated to preserving the largest city-owned island park in the USA. The island is home to some of Detroit’s greatest attractions including the Detroit Aquarium, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and Belle Isle Nature Zoo.

Are you a member of a group not on the list? Please let us know so we can include it.

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Detroit Zoo Attendance Tops One Million

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Detroit Zoo | The Woodward Spine

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The community said “thanks a million” to the Detroit Zoo for the eighth consecutive year on Sunday, August 25, when 2013 attendance surpassed the one-million mark. The day ended with a total for the year so far of 1,002,425 visitors.

“There are thousands of ways to get Vitamin Z at the Detroit Zoo, as more than a million people have already discovered this year. It’s very gratifying to see the community continue to support and enjoy their zoo,” said Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan.

Continued improvements to the Zoo and seasonable weather have contributed to the numbers. The Zoo set a modern single-day attendance record of 20,113 visitors on August 3, boosting the year’s turnout.

The Detroit Zoo hopes to increase attendance further this year when, for the first time in nearly a decade, it brings back the popular Wild Lights holiday light display. For 24 nights, more than a million LED lights will illuminate trees, buildings and animal sculptures throughout the front of the Zoo.

The Detroit Zoological Society is a nonprofit organization that operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic habitats, the Detroit Zoo is located at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, just off I-696, in Royal Oak, Mich. The Detroit Zoo is open 362 days a year, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day (with extended hours until 8 p.m. Wednesdays during July and August), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March. Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free). The Belle Isle Nature Zoo is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is free. For more information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit www.detroitzoo.org.

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Hop on over to Bunnyville at the Detroit Zoo this Saturday

Bunnyville - Detroit Zoo

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – An “egg-stravaganza” of family fun is planned for the Detroit Zoo’s 22nd annual Bunnyville celebration on Saturday, March 30, 2013, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Presented by Meijer, Bunnyville features treats, games, crafts, live entertainment and animal enrichment.

Bunnyville visitors are encouraged to bring a canned or other non-perishable food item to be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank. Each guest with a food donation will receive a reduced admission price of $8, parking not included. Admission for Detroit Zoological Society members is free, but members are encouraged to bring food donations.

Bunnyville will include a Golden Egg Hunt, Funny Bunny Games sponsored by Tim Hortons, springtime crafts, and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny (available for purchase). Guests can stop by the Whisker Painting Station – sponsored by WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone – for their official Bunnyville whiskers.

The Off Broadway Productions musical “The Bunny Follies” will be performed in the Events Pavilion at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

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Ask Yourself: Do I Want to be a Detroit Zoo Volunteer?

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) is asking people to “Ask Yourself” in a new volunteer recruitment video. The question: Do you want to be a Detroit Zoo volunteer? The answer may be just a click away for those who are considering a volunteer position at the Detroit Zoo or Belle Isle Nature Zoo.

The short film, produced by DZS volunteer Giff Rogers, highlights the various volunteer opportunities at the Detroit Zoo. Positions include Zoo Ambassador, Gallery Guide at the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, Guest Assistant at the Arctic Ring of Life, and member of the “Mob Squad” at the Australian Outback Adventure, among others. “Fast Facts” for each position help lead viewers to the position that may be the right fit for them.

“Volunteering with the DZS is great fun for people who would enjoy continuing their education, sharing their love of animals, meeting lifelong friends, developing new skills and even getting exercise walking the Zoo’s 125 acres,” said DZS Volunteer Services Manager Linda Denomme. “Our hope is that people will watch the video and ask themselves, ‘Who wouldn’t want to be a Detroit Zoo volunteer?’”

Recruitment and training of volunteers 18 years of age and older begin in the spring to prepare for the peak summer season, starting this year with the Detroit Zoo’s annual Bunnyville event on March 30, 2013. Training will be offered for both seasonal and year-round opportunities. The 2013 volunteer orientation dates are:

• Saturday, March 16, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
• Wednesday, April 3, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
• Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
• Wednesday, May 29, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Volunteer orientation sessions are held in the Detroit Zoo’s Ford Education Center; advance registration is required. Visit http://detroitzoo.org/volunteers/volunteering-detroit-zoo to download an application. For further information call (248) 541-5717 ext. 3802 or email volunteer@dzs.org.

No experience is necessary to become a Detroit Zoological Society volunteer, and volunteers do not handle or feed the animals. DZS volunteers enjoy a number of benefits in exchange for their time, including discounts and an annual volunteer appreciation party. Last year, 1,167 volunteers contributed 103,335 hours of service to the DZS, representing $2,251,670 in support.

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Detroit Zoo Has a New ‘Mane’ Man

Patty Woods Truesdell | Detroit Zoo

Patty Woods Truesdell | Detroit Zoo

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Simba, a 4-year-old male lion once owned by the royal family of Qatar, has found a new palace at the Detroit Zoo. The king of the jungle arrived in the United States from Saudi Arabia in October. 

The family received Simba as a gift, but after a few years felt he would be better off in a more appropriate environment. “The owners recognized that they didn’t have the expertise to properly care for lions and made the sensible decision to find Simba a good home,” said Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) Curator of Mammals Robert Lessnau. “We’re happy to provide sanctuary for Simba at the Detroit Zoo.”

Now part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) for lions, Simba will eventually contribute to this important cooperative management plan to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species in AZA-accredited zoos.

Simba joins the Detroit Zoo’s two female lions. Bikira, 20, was born at an Arizona zoo and came to Detroit when she was 9 months old. Erin, estimated to be 11 years old, was rescued from a junkyard in Kansas in 2009. In the future, the AZA’s lion SSP will identify another female lion as a mate for Simba with the intent of breeding and starting a family. Lions are the only species of big cat to live in a social group that includes adult males and their offspring.

Detroit Zoo visitors can see the lions year-round in their recently remodeled 7,500-square-foot habitat, which features a 17-foot-tall glass wall for a closer view of the big cats. Warming rocks near the glass provide the lions a toasty perch for people-watching in cooler weather.

The DZS recently established the Kalter/Lezotte Fund for Wildlife Rescue to facilitate the rescue of animals like Simba with the intent to provide sanctuary at the Detroit Zoo. To contribute to the fund, make a check payable to Detroit Zoological Society and send it to Fund for Wildlife Rescue, 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, Royal Oak, MI 48067, or call (248) 336-5704.

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