Belle Isle Children's Zoo - Detroit MI

Address: 8000 Central Ave
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48207
County: Wayne
Number of visits to this page: 1722
Disclaimer:

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

From Detroit Urbex

On any given summer day, thousands of people from Detroit and its neighborhoods flock to Belle Isle, a two-and-a-half mile long island park situated in the Detroit river. Featuring boat clubs, fishing peirs, swimming, and picnic pavilions, the park has been a getaway destination for generations of residents. The crowds of people and their activities create a vibrant sound, a sort hum that follows you around most of the island.

But with a brief detour down an overgrown trail in the center of the island, the sounds of car horns and children shouting start to fade, then disappear altogether. Past sections of rusted chain link fence, rush and thickets give way to a broad field of waist-high grass flanked by elevated wooden walkways on either side, punctuated by a strange set of overgrown wooden-domed buildings. You're now standing in one of Detroit's most shameful victims of neglect and corruption: The abandoned Belle Isle Children's Zoo.

Starting in 1910, Belle Isle was home to the Detroit Zoo. Pictures from the era show happy crowds of well-dressed kids and fathers in suits queuing up to see tiger cubs, seals, elephants, and other animals. In 1956 the zoo moved to its current home in Royal Oak , and the Belle Isle location became a children's zoo.

Sometime in the 1980's the Belle Isle Children's Zoo was renovated and renamed Safariland. Operating in partnership with the nearby conservatory, the zoo carried on with an increasingly odd retune of animal residents. One such resident was an unnamed nine-month old bear who in June of 1980 managed to escape from her enclosure and swam the half mile across the Detroit river to Windsor, Canada. After public outcry and a "free the bear" campaign, the unnamed bear was released back into the wild.

In its final years, the island's remaining herd of inbred European Fallow Deer were moved into to the zoo. By 2002, budgetary problems coupled with declining attendance caused the facility to delay opening for the season. Then-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick decided to keep the zoo closed, citing funding issues and the city's growing deficit.

In 2004, a public campaign by groups including the Friends of Belle Isle resulted in the passage of a local bond issue to fund reopening the park. Kilpatrick responded by using those funds to build a new nature zoo at the other end of the island, awarding the construction contracts worth millions of dollars to a firm that had close ties to the Kilpatrick Family.

As of 2017, the zoo has been vacant for over 15 years and is in severe disrepair. Most of the metal has been stripped from the buildings, which are now covered in graffiti. Trees have fallen onto the walkways, which are starting to collapse. Though the zoo has been used as a location in several movies, it's future is unclear as the State of Michigan works to restore Belle Isle to its former glory.

Info Updates:
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 Photos:45
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Web Listing And Street View Photo
Web Listing And Street View Photo
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Vintage Postcard
Vintage Postcard
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Belle Isle Childrens Zoo - Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
Still Photo From Real Steel Film Shot On Belle Isle
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