By Elizabeth Magee
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
LANSING — With March’s unusually warm weather, people are starting to migrate toward outdoor activities such as parks and nature trails. Potter Park Zoo, Michigan’s oldest public zoo, is located at 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. in Lansing and is a free alternative way to spend your day outside.
Until summer hours go into effect on April 1, the zoo is free. The winter hours that are in effect from November 1 to March 31 are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Summer hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Most of our exhibits don’t close in the winter, which is different from many zoos,” said Kim Dyer, a Potter Park Zoo docent. “The only day we are completely closed is Christmas. And for a small zoo we do have new exhibits often. We got two rhinos last year and our tiger cubs were born in September.”
Potter Park Zoo is next to an environmentally friendly park and a river trail. The zoo, which is 20 acres, a small zoo in comparison to zoos like the Detroit Zoo that have 125 acres.
“What is nice about the size of the zoo is that it is family friendly. On a nice day, kids come with their parents and grandparents and they don’t have to worry about the younger kids getting burnt out, but there is enough that the older ones won’t get bored,” Dyer said.
For the guest that wants to be more interactive, Potter Park hosts special events throughout the year such as “Party for the Planet” and “Wine and Stein,” as well as guided tours.
An Eaton County father, Greg Everett, said, “I enjoy coming to Potter Park over our other alternatives like Binder Park Zoo and the Detroit Zoo for a few reasons. It is much closer and Binder Park isn’t even open yet. They also have a big selection of animals and activities compared to the size and other zoos.”
Amanda Keifer, an Ionia County mom said, “We live half way between here and Grand Rapids, so we could go there but it is busier there. And here they have smaller exhibits where the animals are not as caged up and it is more interactive, which my kids really enjoy.”
Summer admission, which began April 1 is:
Ingham County resident $4
Ingham County resident senior $3
Children (3-16) $2
There is also a parking fee of $3 for residents and $5 for non-residents.