Posted by: Kath Usitalo | January 5, 2011

It’s A Great Season For…Zoos?

See polar bears in their favorite clime during a winter visit to the zoo

The Detroit Zoo just announced that, for the fifth year running, the number of visitors to the landmark zoological park has topped one million. If you were there on August 7 you contributed to the 2010 single-day attendance record of 18,264 guests.

But zoos aren’t just for warm, sunny days. The animals live there 24/7/365, and two of the finest zoos in the state welcome human visitors throughout the year. In fact, winter is a great time to visit a zoo. The crowds are lighter and the animals generally more active.

Picture yourself in a heavy fur coat (real or faux, have it your way) on an 80 degree day, and you’ll understand why the polar bears are sluggish during your summertime visits.

Snow leopards, Siberian tigers, otters and grizzly bears are usually a bit livelier in the cooler temps, and with fewer visitors the animals are often more interested in looking at the hardy souls who come to look at them.

You’ll avoid the crowds on the pathways through the zoo, but if it gets too chilly there are plenty of indoor exhibits to enjoy.

The Michigan zoos open in the winter months:

Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak: Is it the next best thing to living in the wild? Check out the stunning Arctic Ring of Life habitat for polar bears, Arctic fox and seals.

Wild Winter Weekends kick off with an Inuit Adventure January 8-9, the first of three themed events featuring family-friendly activities, music, and treats at Michigan’s largest zoo. Upcoming Wild Winter Weekends are the African Adventure February 12-13 and Safari Social March 12-13.

Note that on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 17, admission price is $2 off the regular price.

The zoo is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. every day through March 31, when extended hours begin.

Lansing, Potter Park Zoo: FREE FREE FREE admission through March 31 to this capital zoo. See the snow leopards and check out the largest owls in the world at the Eurasian Eagle-Owl exhibit.

Note: On Sunday, January 16 bring (real) discarded Christmas trees to the Winter Gifts Enrichment Event. The animals love the novelty of the evergreens—don’t forget your camera.

ALSO:

Grand Rapids, John Ball Zoo: Reopens March 1, but the Zoo Society offers special programs including a look at “Asian Carp: Taking the Fight to Our Backyard, 6 p.m., January 18, and  “Sooper Yooper,” a breakfast and program about invasive aquatic life in the Great Lakes, 9 a.m., January 22.

Saginaw, Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square: The zoo reopens April 1 but from Noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, February 12 it hosts the Arctic Zoo Fest. Fun activities are planned, and admission is by donation to help feed the animals.

Visitor Info Clicks:

Detroit

Lansing

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