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Garlyn Zoo

August 7, 2018

  • W9104 US Highway 2
  • Naubinway, MI 49762
  • (906) 477-1085
  • Website

Our second full day of our Petoskey Vacation started bright and early when B went around the cabin waking everyone up before we really wanted to.  We had planned to get up early….but not B early.

We did actually plan on getting an early start anyway.  About a week before the trip, I saw a segment on Fox 17’s Morning Mix about a zoo in the Upper Peninsula.  Once we realized it was less than two hours away, we decided to take a little road trip.

Garlyn Zoo Wildlife Park is a private zoo east of Naubinway along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Upper Peninsula.  It’s about forty miles west of St. Ignace on U.S. 2.  Once you get across the bridge, make sure to fill up because there’s really not a whole lot of places to pull off between St. Ignace and the zoo.

The entrance to the zoo sticks out on the side of the road and right next to it is a driveway that leads to a large gravel parking lot.  There were only a few cars in the lot when we pulled in a little after 10:30 but by the time we left around 12:30, it was pretty full.

A small dirt path leads to an entrance building that doubles as a gift shop.

Our membership to Binder Park Zoo is no good here as they’re not a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Admission is $13 for adults, $7 for kids 3-13 and free 2 and under so admission costs us $33 but they also sell food for the animals that can be fed.  We bought a bag of food which conisted of six sugar cones and feed.  More of the feed pellets could also be bought near the llamas out of a gumball like machine.

We really had no idea what the expect when we made the trip to the U.P.  It’s a private zoo so it could be really well done like Boulder Ridge….or it could be sad.  Garlyn is really well done.

Right out of the gate, B was squealing.  The first animals we found were the lemurs.  B has been in love with lemurs since our trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo in June.  He picked a stuffed lemur as his souvenir and that thing has barely left his side.  Garlyn had a number of lemurs in the enclosure and they were all running around and jumping on each other.  He thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Next to the lemurs were the alligators.  The animals were all pretty close together but they are by no means packed in to tight spaces.  There were a couple of alligators out sunning themselves and a couple chose to stay in the pool on this somewhat cool summer morning.

The layout of the zoo is really great.  The paths are wood chips and covered by a canopy of trees.

Each of the exhibits has a large, easy to read sign describing the animal’s natural habitat and it’s endangered status in the wild.  There is a wood rail fence separating the people from the animal’s enclosure which is, for the most part, wire fencing.

The first animals we came across that we could feed were the deer.  There were three or four near the fence we walked up and as soon as they saw me reach in the bag they stuck their noses through the fence.  B tried to hold the cone and let the deer eat out of the cone but one of them snatched it out of his hand.  B wasn’t having it.  He yelled at that deer and snatched the cone back then told the deer to eat nicely…and it listened.

Right across from the deer was an animal I haven’t seen at many zoos.  A porcupine.  It was walking right up next to the fence too so we were able to get a really good look at the quills as it walked by.

Around the corner, a sign pointed us to Carnivore Alley.

There was a Siberian Tiger that really wanted to be friends.  There were a couple of goods right next to the large glass viewing area and the cat kept walking back and forth right in front.  It is a gorgeous cat with bright orange and black stripes.  Not sure I’ve ever seen one that up close before.

A little farther down was the next animal we could feed.  The Syrian Brown Bears.  This is a cool story.  There’s actually a dog that lives in the enclosure with the bears as kind of a comfort animal…they comfort each other.  To feed the bears, there are PVC shoots that you can stick apples in to.

Like the deer, the bears noticed what we were doing and they would come to the shoot and wait for the apples to be rolled down.

A little ways up from the bears are the lions.  Garlyn has both a male and female.  We got there at feeding time so they were penned up in the back.  The zookeeper let them out and they stayed near the back to eat.  We came back a couple of times to see if they would come out further but they never really did.

My kids thought one of the funniest things was the large camel that was halfway laying in a large pile of hay while eating it.  Both of them just stood there and laughed as the camel continued to eat and just kind of stare at them.

Of course there are goats.  The boy couldn’t wait to get to the goats and once we saw them, he took just screeching, “Goats! Goats! I wanna feed them.”  We gave each kid another cone and some food but that didn’t last long.  They both asked for the last two cones and some more food so we gave it to them.  Everyone loves feeding the goats…and for some reason, our kids have always been really drawn to them.

B lost his cone to the goats just like he did the deer but the goats didn’t give it back.  We had to turn to hand feeding them with the food that was leftover in the bag.

Right next to the goats were the llamas and emu which also could be fed.  We were out of food but there were some gumball machines that we could get more food out of so we did.  I only had a couple of quarters but those two quarters bought quite a bit of food so it kept the kids happy for a while.

That brought us back to the beginning but there were a few animals out now that weren’t out when we started including these huge tortoises. This was funny.  There were two of them eating and the bigger one got mad and went after the little one.  It chased the smaller one into their rock habitat and we have no idea what happened after they left.

We didn’t realize it when we walked in but there is actually a building behind the lemurs with more animals in it.  There are a number of reptiles, spiders, and amphibians in smaller cages.

In one of the larger enclosures was a macaque monkey who was a rescue.  B got a little too close and freaked the money out.  It charged at the cage and scared everyone.  There was a zookeeper there watching and said the monkey doesn’t really trust people yet…so there’s an assumption it wasn’t treated well by the previous owner.

One more look at the lemurs and that was the end of our zoo trip.  We headed back in to the gift shop to head home.  We promised the kids a souvenir if they were good and they were.  Neither picked something that actually said Garlyn Zoo which was disappointing but they both got small stuffed animals.  L has been on a big lion kick since we saw the Lion King at Miller Auditorium and B wanted a doggy, so that’s what they got.

I  never would have thought to take a trip to the U.P. for a zoo so I’m really glad I happened to catch that segment on TV.   It was a great day trip from Petoskey and gave us something to do on a slightly overcast day.

The Garlyn Zoo has to be one of the U.P.’s hidden gems.  We were so shocked at just how great it is.  We had low expectations mostly because it was something we had never heard of.  We’ve already been recommending this place to everyone we know and will continue to do so when we hear of friends taking trips towards Mackinac Island.

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