Potter Park Zoo strives to keep visitors and animals safe

Print More

By Krista Wilson
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

Potter Park Zoo is the oldest public zoo in Michigan, and its main priority is to keep the public and animals safe.

A mandrill in the indoor monkey exhibit at the Potter Park Zoo. Photo by Krista Wilson.

A mandrill in the indoor monkey exhibit at the Potter Park Zoo. Photo by Krista Wilson.

Park Officer Sgt. Jordan Woodruff said, “The zoo is very safe, we have 24/7 coverage of the whole property.”

Amy Morris, zoo representative, said “We make sure the zoo is safe at all times because we don’t want anyone to get hurt. Animals like rhinos or tigers that could be potentially dangerous are not accessible for the public to touch, but our petting zoo exhibit is extremely safe.”

The black rhinoceros spotted in the picture is named Dopsee, a female whose favorite treats are apples, carrots, and yams. Photo by Krista Wilson.

The black rhinoceros spotted in the picture is named Dopsee, a female whose favorite treats are apples, carrots, and yams. Photo by Krista Wilson.

“The zoo has a very strict protocol where the whole zoo shuts down if an animal escapes,” said Woodruff. “If a child gets lost, we take that very serious as well. We lock down all the gates and don’t let anyone leave or come into the zoo.”

Dr. Allen T. Rutberg, said, “The welfare of animals and the welfare of human beings are linked, and to improve the relationship between animals and humans, there must be more understanding.”

This is one of two lions in the Lion House at the Potter Park Zoo. Photo by Krista Wilson.

This is one of two lions in the Lion House at the Potter Park Zoo. Photo by Krista Wilson.

Rutberg, director of Center for Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University in Massachusetts said it wasn’t until the 1970s when the government created a law addressing the welfare of animals.

”The animal welfare act was passed because the public pushed for regulations on the treatment of animals in public places and their use for medical research,” said Rutberg.

Potter Park Zoo holds permits to care for Bald Eagles that have been injured and cannot be released into the wild. Photo by Krista Wilson.

Potter Park Zoo holds permits to care for Bald Eagles that have been injured and cannot be released into the wild. Photo by Krista Wilson.

One of the peacocks that roam freely through Potter Park Zoo. Photo by Krista Wilson.

One of the peacocks that roam freely through Potter Park Zoo. Photo by Krista Wilson.

The zoo located at 1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave in Lansing, was originally just a public park when it opened in 1915. Morris said the very first animals were elk in 1920, and bears and deer were added that same year.

The land for the zoo was donated to Lansing by J.W and Sarah Potter, and the 58 acres was called Potter Park. It wasn’t until five years later that animals were donated to create a zoo, said Morris.

The emerald tree boa spends its day coiled up and draped over a horizontal branch. The boa is a part of the Birds and Reptiles exhibit. Photo by Krista Wilson.

The emerald tree boa spends its day coiled up and draped over a horizontal branch. The boa is a part of the Birds and Reptiles exhibit. Photo by Krista Wilson.

“It wasn’t until 1929 that the Bird House was completed, now it’s called the Bird and Reptile House,” said Morris. “A year later, the Lion House was completed, with the barn house coming almost 20 years later.”

Potter Park Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April 1 through Labor Day. From Sept. 8 to Oct. 31 the zoo is opened from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Fall hours from Nov. 1 to March 31 are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. all week. Photo by Krista Wilson.

Potter Park Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April 1 through Labor Day. From Sept. 8 to Oct. 31 the zoo is opened from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. Fall hours from Nov. 1 to March 31 are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. all week. Photo by Krista Wilson.

Rob Vernon, Association of Zoos and Aquarium spokesperson said, “Our organization was founded in 1924 to ensure that zoos accredited by us meet higher standards than what is required by the law.”

Vernon said for a zoo to get accredited by the AZA, they have to get approved by the AZA Accreditation Commission, which carefully examines each zoo that applies.

“Benefits of accreditation helps zoos qualify for grant money easier and helps the zoos commit to the proper treatment of animals,” said Vernon.

Potter Park Zoo renewed its accreditation in 2007, after the zoo created its first advisory board to be represented in the Ingham County Parks and Recreation Commission, said Morris.

Potter Park Zoo, located at 1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave in Lansing is the oldest public zoo in Michigan. Map by Krista Wilson.

Potter Park Zoo, located at 1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave in Lansing is the oldest public zoo in Michigan. Map by Krista Wilson.

Comments are closed.