The Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, Unlike Any Before
It defied conventional wisdom. But the Detroit Zoological Society had a very different vision for how a zoo should exhibit its animals. So in 1928 the Detroit Zoo was the first in the nation to go cage-free. That is, all the wildlife was exhibited in “natural” habitats, not confined behind bars in small enclosures. And attendance in the first four months of operation confirmed their approach was right. The zoo was an instant hit.
Carl Hagenbeck, a German animal trainer developed his ideas for exhibiting wildlife by showcasing their intelligence rather than ferocity. In 1925 he was hired by the Society, along with landscape architect Arthur Shurtleff, to design a new Detroit zoo. Ultimately Hagenbeck’s theories on humane treatment and lifelike settings that were enclosed by moats and rocks, not iron bars, helped position the Detroit Zoo as a leader in the field. Today with its continuing commitment to animal welfare and wildlife conservation the Detroit Zoo remains a leader.
The zoo features more than 2,000 animals representing 245 species; 12 unique habitats including the largest polar bear exhibit in the U.S. and the largest penguin conservation facility in the world; plus animals native to the African grasslands, Asian forest, Australian outback and elsewhere. In addition to the wildlife, the zoo has a carousel, scientific exhibits, a 4-D theater, a miniature railroad, playground and picnic facilities, and special events year-round. Not to be missed is the Rackham Memorial Fountain. It features two 10-foot bronze bears standing beneath a cascade of water in a 75,000-gallon pool. It’s no wonder the Detroit Zoo is ranked one of the top family attraction in the state of Michigan.
Hot Spots along the Natural Scenic Byway
To cruise Woodward Ave. is to drive a road that has been officially recognized by the State and Federal government as special. The Michigan Dept. of Transportation designated Woodward as a Pure Michigan Byway to celebrate its important cultural heritage. The Federal Highway Administration got in the act when it recognized the avenue’s significance by designating Woodward Ave. a Natural Scenic Byway and an All-American Road for its cultural, historic, recreational and scenic importance. Along the way you’ll discover a series of monumental solar powered tributes that feature artwork commemorating the roadway. Look for these glass and concrete sculptures in the median.