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Michigan Zoos Prove Animal Conservation is a Work of Art

As an Uncle, we all want to be a Funcle! You know, the FUN Uncle. But, to carry the title as the Funcle, it takes more than showing your superpowers on extraordinary adventures, or your creativity to places far beyond our imaginations, to be the Funcle – you have to include something educational, engaging and will win over the hearts of their Mom and Dad.

Being a Funcle for nearly 2 years now, I’ve learned that it isn’t always an easy job, but whenever I am looking for a fun, engaging and educational activity to do with my Nephew, I seek the guidance of one of Michigan’s arts and cultural organizations. Whether it be a museum, a festival, a library activity, a historical site or even a zoo – they all carry with them activities that are exciting for a child bursting with energy, and always a great way to practice vocabulary, literacy, creativity and art.

This summer I had the pleasure of experiencing the Detroit Zoo for the first time with my Nephew, an adventure I’ve eagerly wanted to go on for many many years. I grew up going to many zoo’s, particularly the ones closest to where I grew up – Potter Park Zoo in Lansing and Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, so it was a real treat to finally visit Detroit’s landmark animal conservancy. But what you might not think about, all of these organizations are part of the vibrant arts & cultural environment that we are lucky to enjoy here in Michigan.

But as we walked through the zoo to say hello to our animal friends, the sheer artistry of the exhibits caught my eye. From the design and carpentry, to the faux finishes that create natural appearing environments, and educational prompts that could be read or listened to, these exhibitions reminded me how lucky we are to have these gems in our backyard. I think my nephew was most jealous that we didn’t have the sounds of a lion roaring at night close enough to his backyard while hanging out on his back porch.

So, if you’re looking for something fun to do, go on an adventure, maybe even a safari, and visit one of these gems in the Fresh Coast State.

Detroit Zoo

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

Binder Park Zoo

Binder Park Zoo is located in Battle Creek and spans 433-acres. Binder Park Zoo is well known for its Wild Africa Exhibit where guests can go on an African adventure to get nose-to-nose with one of the largest giraffe herds in the country.

Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park Zoo is located in Lansing and spans 102-acres, housing over 160 species of animals. Potter Park Zoo works to inspire people to conserve animals in the natural world, and is the oldest public zoo in Michigan.

John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo is an urban park located on the west side of Grand Rapids. John Ball Zoo is situated on the ravines and bluffs along the west edge of the park and houses a variety of animals from all around the world.

GarLyn Zoo Wildlife Park

The GarLyn Zoo Wildlife Park is located in Naubinway in the Upper Peninsula and home to hundreds of native North American Animals. The zoo is a small intimate family run zoo nestled in the mature pine forests on the northern most shores of Lake Michigan. Guests will enjoy the natural wooded appeal of mature pine trees and cedar mulched trails.

Saginaw Children’s Zoo

The Saginaw Children's Zoo is located in Saginaw and spans over 10 acres of tree-filled park land and is also home to colorful gardens, a minisature train and the Great Lakes Bay Region’s only hand-carved carousel. Visitors can expect to meet over 150 individual animals living at the Zoo, and not counting the insects!

DeYoung Family Zoo

The DeYoung Family Zoo is nestled in the wilderness of Wallace in Upper Peninsula. Visitors can step out of the box, away from the concrete jungle and come along on a new journey. The zoo features a natural setting filled with amazing animals from around the world. Large natural habitats, education through hands-on experiences, as well as up close and personal family fun!

Roscommon Zoo

The Roscommon Zoo is a family owned and operated zoo and petting zoo located in Roscommon, and spans 20 scenic acres. The zoo is home to various native and non-native exotic animals as well as domestic farm animals. Many of their animals have been highly socialized, making for unique interactive experiences between you, the visitor, and some amazing creatures.

Written by Josh Holliday

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