Royal Oak, Michigan
Because exhibits at the Detroit Zoo are wireless, most animals are separated from the public by features such as moats.
“The Detroit Zoo is the first in the country to use wireless exhibits,” communications director Patricia Janeway said. “You can see them in a natural setting. People who are amateur and professional photographers love it because it’s almost like you’re on a safari.”
People can’t cross the dividers, but some animals can.
“It’s not unusual to be walking along the path and have a kangaroo hop in front of you,” Janeway said.
The zoo has a 4-D theater and the Wildlife Adventure Simulator, a ride that holds 30 people at a time for an educational experience that feels like you are in the wild. A railroad is also on the grounds to pick up visitors from the front and back of the zoo. Visitors often enjoy riding to the back and walking back to the front to see all the animals the zoo has.
Visitors can also have behind-the-scenes experiences with penguins and walk in the 70-foot-long Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage, where two polar bears will swim above as they walk through a tunnel. At the Holden Reptiles Conservation Center, visitors can view an 80-pound, 18-foot python. The center holds approximately 250 individual animals that are threatened or endangered in the wild.
Groups of 50 or fewer can enjoy the giraffe encounter, where they can participate in feeding the giraffes.
St. Louis Zoo
One of the best things about the St. Louis Zoo is its free admission. The zoo is split into zones for easy navigating: River’s Edge, The Wild, Discovery Corner, Historic Hill, Red Rocks and Lakeside Crossing have a range of exhibits and animals. From the elephant woods to Big Cat Country, there are enough exhibits to explore all day.
Sea Lion Sound, the zoo’s newest exhibit, opened in 2012. The Pacific Northwest coast inspired the 1.5-acre exhibit. It includes an underwater tunnel to see the sea lions playing. Sea lion performances happen at the Lichtenstein Sea Lion Arena in the middle of the park. The 811-seat amphitheater features a rock bridge that stretches into the audience, a high dive, a slide and a 40,000-gallon pool with underwater views.
A wide array of birds can be seen at the St. Louis Zoo. It has one of the largest waterfowl collections of any zoo in North America, as well as the Bird House and Garden. It sits on two acres and consists of a winding path along which visitors can walk to see birds from all around the world.
“One of the great things about the St. Louis Zoo is we have a dedicated group of people to help groups plan a great zoo day,” said director of sales and private events Jennifer Poindexter. “They can talk through what their time frame is, and we help plan accordingly. We take time to help groups understand our campus. Instead of feeling like they have to tackle the whole zoo with a group of 25, we identify food and beverage options and specific animal exhibits and attractions in their area of interest.”