Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo is a zoo located in Royal Oak and Huntington Woods, Michigan, about 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the Detroit city limitations, at the crossway of Woodward Avenue, 10 Mile Road, and Interstate 696. It is operated by the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS), a non-profit company, together with the Belle Isle Nature Center, located within the city limits of Detroit on Belle Isle. The Detroit Zoo is among Michigan’s largest family tourist attractions, hosting more than 1.5 million visitors yearly. Situated on 125 acres of naturalistic exhibitions, it is home to more than 2,400 animals representing 235 species. The Detroit Zoo was the first zoo in the United States to utilize barless exhibits thoroughly. Royal Oak Michigan Information.


The first Detroit Zoo opened in 1883 on Michigan and Trumbull Avenues (area south of Michigan bounded by Church Street and west of 10th Street (then known as Wesley Street)), across from the then site of Tiger Stadium. William Cameron Coup’s circus had gotten here in town, only to catch financial difficulties. Luther Beecher, a local business owner, financed the purchase of the circus animals and set up a structure for their screen called the Detroit Zoological Garden. The zoo closed the following year and the structure was converted into a horse auction site (the Michigan Avenue Horse Exchange).

The Detroit Zoological Society was founded in 1911, however, the zoo’s official opening did not take place up until August 1, 1928. Showing up late, Nagel parked his vehicle behind the bear dens and as he came hurrying around the front, Morris, a polar bear, leaped from his moat and stood directly in front of Nagel. The keepers rushed the bear and required him back into the moat, leaving the mayor unscathed.

By 1930, the Bear Dens and Sheep Rock had actually been added, followed soon by the Bird House. Next to be constructed were the Elk Exhibit, the Baboon Rock, and Primate and Reptile houses. The Detroit Zoo was the very first zoo in America with cage-less exhibitions.