Vehicles leisurely roll across African Safari Wildlife Park's landscape, yielding to a host of friendly creatures. Camels, giraffes, zebras, forest-dwelling bongos, Asian sika deer, and Scottish highland cows await you. Guests can hold cups filled with feed, which exotic muzzles devour, and a walking area provides an up-close look at enclosed species such as the rare white alligator. Warm-weather months bring out additional activities, including animal rides, pig races, and educational animal shows where guests can interact with small animals. Food and beverages from African Safari's ice-cream shop, snack bar, and grill help sate midday hungers caused by watching a guanaco sneeze.
While visiting the Great Lakes Zoological Society's indoor reptile zoo, guests take in animal sights that tend to deceive at first glance. A rough-barked indoor tree, upon closer inspection, may actually be a snake craftily blending in. Lizards, tortoises, and tarantulas populate similar enclosures, resting atop logs suspended over ponds or within forest-floor greenery. The nonprofit indoor zoo houses more than 100 animals representing over 70 species, including reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids, and birds, that help teach visitors about their habitats. Along the way, guides invite visitors to meet colorful residents such as a reticulated python weighing over 150 pounds, two 90-pound Sulcata tortoises, and monitor lizards that extend over 5 feet.
Zoo staff members also lead groups deeper into the study of their creatures during classroom visits, where children learn about ecological conservation, how to identify dangerous animals, and the proper way to give a snake a handshake as they touch and handle some reptiles. On-staff instructors also teach group classes in subjects such as animal medicating, handling, and reptile husbandry. The nonprofit occasionally places its animals up for adoption, and works toward conservation efforts by rehabilitating, breeding, and rereleasing native Michigan species and global endangered species.
The Butterfly House fills its lush indoor botanical garden with more than a thousand butterflies, creating a tranquil and meditative space for guests to relax and take in the wonderful natural variety present in a single order of organisms. Representing diverse species from the Americas and Asia, this well-traveled population of lepidopterans likes to flutter about, sipping nectar and basking in the sun, much like revelers at an international beach party. Since butterflies live for a fleeting two to three weeks, the facility brings in more creatures and new species regularly, making each visit unique. The knowledgeable staff helps patrons learn about every stage of this magnificent creature’s life cycle, from its awkward pupa days to the search for a mate and, in twilight, retirement from its professional nectar-collecting career to pursue a nectar-collecting hobby.