Potter Park Zoo
- 1301 S. Pennsylvania Avenue
- Lansing, MI 48912
- (517) 483-4222
More zoo’s. I think we’ve figured out that we have to been to 10 zoo’s in the last 18 months. I love. J loves it. L loves it. So I don’t feel bad about checking out as many different zoos as possible.
We had to make a trip over to the Lansing area to drop off an antique chair for my mom. She was having a hard time finding someone in Illinois to repair it, but she found someone in Holt. She asked if we could take it over for her one day. I was going to to do it one morning when it was just L and I, but J mentioned something about going to the zoo, so I waited until Friday. That’s my day off, so when J got home from work at 12:30, we loaded up the chair and L then headed off to Lansing.
The Potter Park Zoo is in Potter Park just south of downtown Lansing on Pennsylvania Avenue. J and I have actually been there a couple times. When we lived in Lansing, we always took advantage of the awesome “Be a Tourist In Your Own Town” put on by the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau. This awesome event allows you to buy a passport for $1 then get in free to a number of different attractions around the area. This was the first time, obviously, that we have taken L though.
Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the zoo is part of Potter Park which is operated by Ingham County. Unfortunately, they charge you to park in this park which means even though you’re going to pay admission to the zoo, you still have to pay to park. The fee for a non-Ingham County resident is $5. Not a big deal, but is just another expense even though you still have to pay to get in to the zoo.
Once we paid, we made our way to the back of the park to find the zoo. Potter Park Zoo is the oldest public zoo in the state of Michigan. It opened in 1920 after being moved from a different park in the city of Lansing. The zoo is neatly tucked in to the park surroundings and makes use of the natural trees and landscapes to blend in the animal exhibits.
Luckily for us, Potter Park Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums so we got half off our entry due to us being members at Binder Park Zoo. L is still free so it only cost us the price of one adult admission which is $10.
We went to Potter Park Zoo on a Friday in late September and even though we paid full price admission, a lot of the interactive exhibits were closed. Even the gift shop and snack bar near the entrance were closed. J had waited until we got inside to get a drink, but we weren’t able to do that until we found the snack bar near the back of the zoo later in the day.
The first couple habitats that you come to once entering the trail are a couple of the coolest. On one side you have a big Bald Eagle exhibit. As with all Bald Eagle exhibits in zoos, the birds are on loan from the government and they cannot fly due to wing injuries. Potter Park Zoo has three of the eagles, two females and one male, on exhibit.
On the other side of the trail is the Arctic Fox and River Otters. The River Otters have a really great habitat with both above and below water viewing. It’s quite large and there are several different spots to watch them play. One of the otters was really active and playful when we were there and would swim up to the kids who were standing at the glass.
We walked past the wolf and moose exhibits (although we would come back to the them later) on our way to the farmyard. On the way, we passed the pony rides, which is closed now except on weekends. The farmyard is usually one of L’s favorite spots. They had goats, chickens, llamas, pigs, rabbits, donkey’s….all the usual. The unusual thing is we couldn’t pet any of them. They didn’t even have the goat corral open..again, only open on weekends. I understand that it’s after Labor Day and during the week, but having the goats closed was really kind of annoying…again, because we paid full admission price and there was no warning that many of the interactive things were closed when we paid.
After explaining to L she couldn’t pet the goats, we moved down the trail to the Bactrain Camels. There’s a really nice viewing platform that gets you on eye level with then. I think this is one of the first time L has seen camels and she really wanted to climb up on the fence to see them. She ran up and down the stairs and ramp a couple times but always had to stop and say hi to the camels.
After getting a little lost, and walking by the Wings From Down Under exhibit which was, again, closed, we found the Magellinic Penguins. This was another really cool exhibit. There were a number of small penguins jumping in and out of the large pool. L loved these guys. There’s a window that extends down to the walkway, but it wasn’t super clear. It was easier to look around the glass and in to the pool, so I lifted L up and she giggled as the penguins would jump in, swim around, then drag themselves back up on to the bricks.
We then stepped over to the Black Rhino. Again, another big exhibit and the rhino was up and moving around. There’s an overlook to the exhibit plus you can walk down the stairs back to the path and just look over the wall. L was so impressed by the size of the rhino.
We happened to walk up to the meerkat exhibit at feeding time. There were three meerkat’s running around while a zookeeper was sitting on top of the exhibit ringing a bell. Eventually, she three in three mice which surprised all of us. I don’t think anyone realized meerkat’s were carnivores. They’re so little and cute you just assume they only eat plants.
We finally found an open concession stand on our way to the Feline and Primate Building. J really needed something to drink and got a Pepsi and L always loves popcorn, so we got a large popcorn to share.
Once we took care of that, we made our way to the Lions. There were two female lions on the prowl as it looked like it was about feeding time for them too. The male lion was perched on top of a rock just chillin. The exhibit was really cool as it got you close to the cats. The females kept looking over at L who was munching away on her popcorn.
We walked away from the lion cage and started towards the Amur Tiger exhibit when we heard a loud roar. We hightailed back to the lions to see the two females had joined the male on the rock. He didn’t seem to enjoy the ladies getting in to his space, but by the time we got back, they were making their way back down and he took his spot on the rock.
We headed back to the Amur Tiger then over to the Snow Leopard before heading inside the Feline and Primate Building. Inside, there wasn’t much going on. There was one sleepy tiger that L really liked and the Lemurs had just been fed, so they were running around their cage too. L really liked a couple of the Golden Lion Tamarin. She kept stepping up on the ledge to get a closer look at those little primates who would just stare at her from their perch.
The primates were the final stop on our day at the zoo. We headed back towards the exit and took one last glance at the wolf and moose as we headed back to the parking lot.
Potter Park Zoo is another great little zoo. The problem for me was having to pay for parking. It’s not a big enough zoo in a big enough city to justify the parking fee. That would be a problem no matter when we went. I also didn’t like that the goat corral and the Wings Down Under were closed, but we still paid full price. I was alright with the camel rides and pony rides being closed because those are just extras, but L always expects to pet the goats when we go to a zoo. That was a little disappointing.
Potter Park Zoo is a nice little zoo. Had it not been so late in the season, we would have had a little more fun, but we still took about two hours to make our way through the zoo. The River Otters and the Penguins were the highlights for us….well, the active lions were pretty cool too.