Home > Uncategorized > Vacation: Detroit Zoo

Vacation: Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo happens to be fairly close to where Aunt Shirley and Uncle Harry live; Harry and I actually rode past it on our bike ride Wednesday morning and glimpsed a couple of Bactrian camels from the street.   But Shirley, Uncle Clarence, and I got a better look when we went there later that day (Harry was busy at the university).  Here are some of the few pictures I took that turned out well, and some not so well.  (Click them to enlarge.)

I couldn’t get any good photos of butterflies in the butterfly hall, partly because I was kind of nervous; I’m spooked by things flying close to me, and by insects in general, even when they’re pretty.   But here’s the outside of the hall:

In the foreground, you can see Clarence on his scooter with the umbrella stand he attached.  He didn’t need the umbrella, though.  Shirley is barely visible behind him.

Here’s a nice exotic flower Shirley called my attention to in the butterfly hall:

That leaf in the middle that looks white is actually purple like the other two, but it’s overexposed.  The pinkish part of the flower is flat, kind of tongue-shaped.  I have no idea what kind of flower it is.

The bird section was next.  As with the butterflies, the patrons walk right through the area the animals inhabit, with no separation.  (When we left the butterfly section, a zoo employee made sure we had no hangers-on; they’re concerned about contaminating the local population with exotics.)

The highlight of the bird area was a pair of big, colorful parrots, I forget what kind exactly.  But I couldn’t get a good angle for a picture of them.  The best I could manage was a shot of

some ibises:


Here’s a Ruppel’s Griffon Vulture spreading its wings.  It’s much more impressive in person:

The vultures had a bizarre way of moving that must’ve been some form of display: wings spread and raised high, heads lowered to practically knee level as they trotted toward each other.  The lowered head suggests submission, but the spread wings suggest aggression.  I don’t know what to make of it.  It was very strange to watch.

I’m afraid the only other thing I got a decent picture of was this fountain:

The highlight was, of course, the tiger enclosure, but the tigers were napping (awwww) at the back of the trench, and the best shot I could get with my phone camera is this, in which they’re little more than blocks of pixels:

The rhinos were impressively huge, but I’m not sure it came across in the photo:

Finally, here’s my not-wholly-successful attempt to photograph a seal as it swam over the glass tunnel in the arctic enclosure:

There was a lot I didn’t manage to get pictures of.  There were some macaques in a glass enclosure and one put on a bit of a show for a little kid and his mom, coming right up to the glass, but I was too busy being amused to remember to take a photo, and no other good opportunities presented themselves.  I spotted a silverback gorilla, but it walked away behind the “rocks” before Shirley and Clarence could see it and before I could get a photo.  Some of the more interesting critters like the red kangaroo could only be vaguely glimpsed in the treetops, and the lioness was up on a ledge largely hidden by a tree.   No polar bears deigned to go for a swim for us, and the glass on the penguin exhibit was oddly fogged over.

Now, personally I’m not crazy about the idea of putting animals in small enclosures for display; I’d prefer it if they could all be in their natural habitats.  But things are improving in that regard.  Harry told me about how the Detroit Zoo used to keep elephants that they’d keep in an enclosure and then bring out for exercise in the yard, but fortunately they’ve now been moved to better living conditions.  That I’m particularly glad of.  We’re finding increasing evidence that elephants are highly intelligent, social creatures, perhaps on the same level of consciousness as great apes and dolphins, and captivity, particularly in the absence of a community, is as damaging to the elephant psyche as to the human.  So as impressive as it would’ve been to see elephants, I was more gratified by their absence here.  The Detroit Zoo was actually the first US zoo to part with its elephants on ethical grounds, and it is involved in conservation efforts for a number of the species it has on display.  I guess in a lot of cases these days, an animal’s natural habitat would be less safe for it than captivity, if there’s even any of its habitat left.

Wikipedia has more on the Detroit Zoo, including better pictures, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_Zoo

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. Kitty
    September 28, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    When you mentioned the red kangaroo, I wondered if you were actually referring to the red panda being in the treetops? The red panda is directly across from the tigers. The elephants were sent to the P.A.W.S. a sanctuary in California, as the weather in Detroit was not suitable for elephants. You can go to http://www.pawsweb.net and see them on the web cam. You would most likely be pleased to know that a great many of the animals at the Detroit Zoo are rescues. Barle, one of the polar bears, was rescued from a circus, where she was housed in a cage for 16 years, as it traveled to areas where the temperatures were around 100 degrees. 6 years ago, she gave birth to a cub, after she had been at Detroit for some time. The seals, race horses, eagles (unable to fly, after being injured in the wild), plus all of the ones rescued from the exotic animal dealer in Texas that left them to die in a warehouse, are rescues.

    • September 29, 2010 at 6:21 am

      Yeah, I’m probably conflating the red panda with the tree kangaroo elsewhere in the zoo. There were a couple of different critters that we only vaguely glimpsed through the branches.

  1. October 2, 2017 at 9:43 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: