Detroit Zoo’s Great Lakes Nature Center gains $2m pledge

Detroit Zoo’s Great Lakes Nature Center gains $2 million pledge.  The Erb Foundation’s gift brings the zoo closer to the $10 million needed for its 25,000 square foot centre dedicated entirely to the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The Detroit Zoological Society announced back in February that it had chosen Macomb County as the home for a new centre that will focus purely on the water and wildlife of the Great Lakes. The exact location has not yet been announced.

The centre would provide a home for Great Lakes fish, including lake sturgeon and paddlefish – which are now extinct in their original habitat. It will have a strong focus on conservation efforts for these and other endangered species, including Blanding’s turtles, mudpuppies, massasauga rattlesnakes, ospreys, black terns, common terns and various bats.

There will also be habitats for native amphibians, reptiles, turtles, small mammals, shorebirds and birds of prey as well as a native butterfly garden.

“As stewards of the environment, we have a great responsibility to protect the Great Lakes and the wildlife that inhabit them,” said Ron Kagan, Executive Director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society. “Macomb County, with 32 miles of coastline along Lake St Clair and 31 miles on the Clinton River, is the ideal location for a major waterfront nature centre devoted to the natural wonders of the Great Lakes.”

Supporting the Great Lakes ecosystem

The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation funds projects in the arts and environment. It is particularly focused on supporting initiatives to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.

“The Detroit Zoological Society has an excellent track record of connecting people to our natural world,” says John M. Erb, president of the Erb Family Foundation. “We believe this nature centre will be a significant asset as we work to build water stewardship in the Great Lakes region.”

“The Erb Family Foundation’s generous grant for the Great Lakes Nature Center is not only an extraordinary gift to the DZS, it is also a major new investment in the community,” says Kagan. “It underscores the Foundation’s profound commitment to a healthy Great Lakes ecosystem.”

Construction on the centre will start next year. Once open, the aim is to attract between 50,000 and 200,000 visitors each year. It is being funded predominantly through a range of private and foundation contributions. The zoo is also hoping to secure public funding from a variety of environmental departments and agencies.

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