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Why Visit the Detroit Zoo in the Winter Months?

As a first year member of the Detroit Zoo, I was excited to learn the zoo would be open all year round! Considering the mild winter we have had so far, I took the opportunity to head out with my toddler and see what we could see.  I was pleasantly surprised!  Excluding the lion and black bear, many animals were so much more active in the cooler temperatures.

One new discovery we made was the indoor rhino viewing center! In all my lifetime as a Metro Detroiter who took many school field trips to the zoo as both a student and teacher, I never knew such a space existed!

The giraffes were also inside playing and with so few people visiting the zoo, we had a perfect view!  My little guy ran back and forth seeing each one as many times as he wanted as I snapped a few photos to share.

I was also excited to take a walk into the Red Panda Forest, the newest addition to the Detroit Zoo family! Three red panda’s are fun to spot (think Where’s Waldo!) as all ages walk over a rickety bridge!  Read more about this new adventure in my other Metro Detroit Mommy blog titled, “Red Pandas, Bridges and Forest- Oh My!”

Our last stop was to warm up and dry off from the drizzling rain at the newly opened Buddy’s Pizza inside the zoo, near the members only entrance/exit.  We were the only guests, so we had impeccable service and the same delicious Buddy’s pizza and salad you’d get at any other location.  The bathroom is located just outside the restaurant doors so after we ordered we hit that and our salad was out before we even got back in.

Looking for some tips to make the most of your winter visit?

  • If you have a little one who loves riding the train, DO NOT MENTION IT! Avoid the station at all costs. The penguin house is a nice distraction! The train stops running for the season around October and does not start again until Spring. I made this mistake and it was a tough recovery, but we all survived.
  • Bring extra gloves if your toddler is like mine and wants to touch everything he can- even if it’s wet!
  • Wear your rain or snow boots since puddles are fun for jumping!
  • Bring a warm coffee for yourself since many of the zoo cafe’s  (like the arctic cafe and gift shop) are not open in the wintry months.
  • Bring your good camera if that’s your thing because the animals are often so much more active than in the summer sun! Like, we heard the zebras braying and galloping around as well as the polar bear playing with a ball!  (Don’t be like me and let your phone die from snapping too many photos early on!)

Bundle up and get your vitamin Z this winter!  It is well worth the trip!

Carissa Orr
Author: Carissa Orr

Early Childhood Professional, “Music with Ms. Carissa,” Mama, and now blogger thanks to MDM! Carissa works as an Early Childhood Consultant for Michigan’s state-funded Preschool Program, the Great Start Readiness Program.  In her spare time, she entertains children and families with live music as part of her Music with Ms. Carissa.  Most importantly, she is “Jack’s Mom” and loves adventuring with her young toddler all around Metro Detroit!