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.