Detroit Zoo to construct $10m Great Lakes Nature Center

Detroit Zoo is to build a $10m Great Lakes Nature Center featuring aquariums, animal habitats and displays on the ecology of the area.

The Detroit Zoological Society has selected Macomb County as the home of the new Great Lakes Nature Center, which will focus on the water and wildlife of the Great Lakes.

Ron Kagan, CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society, said: “As stewards of the environment, we have a great responsibility to protect the Great Lakes and the wildlife that inhabit them.

“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.”

A number of waterfront locations in Macomb County are being considered and site selection will be announced in the spring. Construction on the facility, which will be more than 1,800sqm, is expected to begin this year and to cost at least $10m.

The Center will be home to a number of Great Lakes fish, including lake sturgeon and paddlefish – which are now extinct in the Great Lakes. It will have a focus on conservation efforts for these and other endangered species.

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

It will feature cutting-edge learning technology such as Science On a Sphere. Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the system uses computers and video projectors to display presentations onto a large hologram-like globe, including short films about animals and ecosystems.

The Center will be partially powered by hydro and solar energy, including an all-in-one ground-mounted solar panel system called a Smartflower. It will also incorporate eco-friendly policies, practices and construction, such as the use of permeable pavement parking, rain gardens, waste reduction and recycling, and sustainable materials.

The project is being funded through private and foundation contributions. In addition, efforts are underway to secure public funding from various environmental departments and agencies.

When it opens by the end of 2019, the Great Lakes Nature Center is expected to welcome 50,000 to 200,000 visitors annually.

Image: c. Detroit Zoological Society.