Potter Park Zoo

zoo in Lansing, Michigan, USA

The Potter Park Zoo is a zoo in Lansing, Michigan. Potter Park Zoo is the oldest public zoo in Michigan. The zoo is 102 acres (41.3 ha) in size. The zoo has more than 160 species of animals.[1] The zoo is owned by the City of Lansing, and operated by Ingham County. The zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Potter Park Zoo
Zoo entrance sign on Pennsylvania Avenue
Date opened1915
LocationLansing, Michigan
 United States
Land area102 acres (41.3 ha)
Coordinates42°43′03.87″N 84°31′42.24″W / 42.7177417°N 84.5284000°W / 42.7177417; -84.5284000
No. of animals500+
No. of species160+
Annual visitors167,000 Increase 18%



Potter Park Zoo was dedicated on July 5, 1915. The zoo officially opened in 1920.[1]

The Bird and Reptile building opened in 1929. In 1930 the Lion building opened. The bighorn sheep exhibit (originally called Monkey Island) was constructed in 1936. The aviary was constructed in 1941. The barnyard and petting zoo opened in 1949.[2] In the 1950s, Potter Park Zoo had 138 mammals and 267 birds.[3]

Magellanic Penguins at Potter Park Zoo

In the late 1960s, the zoo began a decline from municipal neglect. In 1969 a columnist of the Lansing State Journal encouraged residents to raise money for the zoo.[4]

A magellanic penguin exhibit opened in 1985. In 1986 the zoo became a member of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).[5] In 1989 the zoo's Lion House was renovated and renamed the Feline and Primate Building.[2]

Amur (Siberian) Tiger at the zoo

In 2005 endangered tiger cubs were born at the zoo. They were featured on NBC's Today Show.[6] In 2005 the River Otter and Arctic Fox exhibits opened. In November 2006 Lansing transferred the operation and maintenance of the zoo to Ingham County.[7]

Snow Leopard at the zoo

In January 2009 the zoo announced plans to expand the eastern black rhinoceros exhibit.[8] In 2009 the Wings from Down Under aviary opened with more than 600 Australian birds.[6][9] In March 2010 Potter Park Zoo artificially inseminated a female snow leopard. It is believed to be the first successful procedure without surgery or anesthesia.[10] A larger Eurasian Eagle-owl exhibit opened in September 2010.[9][11]

Animals and exhibits


Potter Park Zoo's Feline and Primate Building has two Amur tigers, African lions, snow leopards, mandrills, Pallas' cats, cotton-top tamarins, black-headed spider monkeys,golden lion tamarins, mongoose, red-ruffed, and ring-tailed lemurs.

The Bird and Reptile House has rare flying creatures like Bali starlings, chestnut-fronted macaws, eastern screech owls, Eurasian eagle owls, green aracaries, Jambu fruit doves. There are scaly species like chukwallas, inland bearded dragons, leopard geckos, blue-tongued skinks, Gila monsters, water dragons, boa constrictors, green tree pythons, and more.

The Coral Reef Room, showcases exotic fish, crustaceans, eels, and coral.

The Farmyard EdVentures is where children can pet and feed animals at the barnyard and petting zoo. The petting zoo has goats, burros, reindeer, yaks, toy pigs, tortoises, and rabbits.

The Wing From Down Under aviary has grass parakeets, cockatiels, and eastern rosellas.

Gardens and a pond have ducks, geese, swans, and pelicans. Other animals at the zoo are kangaroos, penguins, river otters, bongos, bald eagles, eastern timberwolves, red pandas, arctic foxes, and porcupines.[12]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Hile, p. 6
  2. 2.0 2.1 History of the Potter Park Zoo and Zoo Society Archived 2009-09-06 at the Wayback Machine, ingham.org/ppz, retrieved 2009-Sep-15
  3. Hile, pp. 21–23
  4. Manassah, pp. 99–100
  5. Hile, p. 101
  6. 6.0 6.1 History of Potter Park Zoo, PotterParkZoo.org, retrieved 2010-Jun-07
  7. "Potter Park Zoo Summary" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-01-21. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
  8. International Rhino Foundation. The Rhinos At Potter Park Zoo Are Redoing Their Home Archived 2011-06-13 at the Wayback Machine, rhinos-irf.org, January 13, 2009, retrieved 2009-Sep-16
  9. 9.0 9.1 Rook, Christine. Potter Park scene bursts with birds[permanent dead link], Lansing State Journal, lsj.com, June 15, 2010, retrieved 2010-June-23
  10. Prater, Kathryn. Potter Park inseminates snow leopard[permanent dead link], Lansing State Journal, lsj.com, March 6, 2010, retrieved 2010-Mar-13
  11. Domsic, Melissa. Eurasian eagle owls join Potter Park family[permanent dead link], Lansing State Journal, lsj.com, September 13, 2010, retrieved 2010-Sep-13
  12. Exhibits Archived 2009-09-17 at the Wayback Machine, ingham.org/ppz, retrieved 2009-Sep-15
  • Manassah, Sallie M.; David A. Thomas, James F. Wallington (1986). Lansing: Capital, Campus, and Cars. Joyce Shaheen Moffett. p. 99–100. ISBN 0-9616743-1-8.
  • Hile, Kevin (2008). Little Zoo by the Red Cedar: The Story of Potter Park Zoo. Strategic Book Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60693-062-5.

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