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Thread: Belle Isle Zoo

  1. #1

    Default Belle Isle Zoo

    The place is a mess. Do the Friends of Belle Isle or the DNR have any plans for this site?

  2. #2

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    No, The elevated walkways were too expensive to fix in 2002. They have decayed for another 17 years since then. I can't see it ever coming back.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by ndavies View Post
    No, The elevated walkways were too expensive to fix in 2002. They have decayed for another 17 years since then. I can't see it ever coming back.
    If it's truly unfixable, and no one is willing to fund an actual zoo there anymore, then the state should tear it all down and repurpose the area. Like the original poster said, the area is an ongoing, and worsening, mess, and creates a big dead hole in the middle of the park. This is just the kind of thing the state takeover was supposed to address. Perhaps some of that much-touted Penske windfall could be useful in this effort?

  4. #4

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    It's too bad that it can't be repurposed. If you look at the total acreage from an aerial view, there is a lot of built up area (buildings and walkways) that would have to be torn down. It won't be cheap.

    https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3403.../data=!3m1!1e3

    They could put new decking on top to replace the bad wood, but for what? Can't think of a single other use, besides maybe a Jurassic World...

  5. #5

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    Oh Lordy... looky at what I found in a niche on the side of the closed zoo... a nice statue of German poet laureate Friedrich Schiller...

    https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3414...7i13312!8i6656

    And opposite him is a bust of Italian poet Dante....

    https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3415...7i13312!8i6656

    I think these should be cleaned up and moved to a park or boulevard downtown. Or cleaned and moved to a better site on the island. They're so 'lost' in this location.

  6. #6

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    Well then it is time to apply some pressure to Penske and the DNR to clean it up. It is an eyesore that needs redevelopment priority.

  7. #7

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    Topical liberal millennial. Let’s put pressure on our benefactor. We want moooooore.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheels View Post
    Topical liberal millennial. LetÂ’s put pressure on our benefactor. We want moooooore.
    You're right, it was quite topical. What wasn't topical was your passive political aggression simply because you disagree with someone's approach to resolve an issue. Rather than denigration, a more appealing approach might be to propose another solution.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheels View Post
    Topical liberal millennial. Let’s put pressure on our benefactor. We want moooooore.
    Not even really a good try. Penske isn't a "benefactor" of Belle Isle, he's paying for the use of the island for his business (now also as owner of Indy Car itself), the closing of a portion of the park for a month or more to set up for their event, and for the permanent use of a significant section of the park for the large concrete pad and road modifications to support this event. This was all the result of negotiations that he and his organization held with the park's interested parties for the use of Belle Isle. Also, I never said anything about "moooooore", I only stated that perhaps dealing with the abandoned zoo situation might be a good use for the money Penske already pays for his park usage.

    Oh, and I'm pretty much as far from a "millennial" as one can be. Although I do try to be topical.
    Last edited by EastsideAl; November-19-19 at 01:23 PM.

  10. #10

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    Belle Isle Zoo is finished. No point walking the planks to see some Detroit Lions!!! I'm going to the Detroit Zoo, Bye!

  11. #11

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    Why can't it be an extension of the actual Detroit Zoo?

  12. #12

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    The Belle Isle Nature Center is already an extension of the Detroit Zoo. I think it needs to be torn down, but it would be cool to create a canopy walk much like they did up in Dow Gardens. I also wouldn't mind an expansion of the paths through the woods there.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by bragaboutme View Post
    Why can't it be an extension of the actual Detroit Zoo?
    That's what it was for decades, going back through the years when it was the Children's Zoo and even back before that. Until Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick destroyed it and ignored a referendum in order to graft some more money, through the very inflated building of the Nature Center and tiny adjacent zoo, for himself and his buddies.

    But that's all water under the walkways now, I guess. It seems evident that no one from the Detroit Zoo or anywhere else is willing to undertake the expense of what it would cost to renovate the place as a zoo again. So the question is, what do we do with the eyesore and dead spot now?

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by EastsideAl View Post
    It seems evident that no one from the Detroit Zoo or anywhere else is willing to undertake the expense of what it would cost to renovate the place as a zoo again.
    The Detroit Zoo has poured a lot of funding into capital improvements over the past few years. They've opened up the new Penguin center, which is best in the world. They've updated the Tiger exhibit, put in a new Red Panda exhibit, added a new boardwalk over the pond, and other improvements. This is just over the last couple of years.

    Point is they are investing in the Detroit Zoo to keep it a world class facility, which it is, and unless additional funding opens up, I just don't see the value in stopping the investments there to funnel them to the Belle Isle Zoo.

    Besides, do we really need two separate zoos in that close proximity to another? Maybe if the Detroit Zoo wasn't one of the best in the world with year after year of record breaking attendance, but since it is, I guess I don't see the need to change the strategic direction that is working well.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by sirrealone View Post
    Maybe if the Detroit Zoo wasn't one of the best in the world with year after year of record breaking attendance, but since it is, I guess I don't see the need to change the strategic direction that is working well.
    The Detroit Zoo is considered a mediocre zoo, mostly because of the long distances between animal exhibits. Toledo's zoo is more highly regarded.

    I would like to see the return of the Belle Isle Children's Zoo. EastsideAl was right - the cost of the "Belle Isle Nature Center" probably could have funded operation and maintenance of the Belle Isle Zoo. That Bobby Ferguson-built Nature Center was not needed.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by sirrealone View Post
    TThey've opened up the new Penguin center, which is best in the world.
    And had to close it becuase it was leaking... But I agree with your overall points.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by masterblaster View Post
    The Detroit Zoo is considered a mediocre zoo, mostly because of the long distances between animal exhibits. Toledo's zoo is more highly regarded.
    That's a very interesting take. The bigger footprint of the Detroit Zoo allows for exhibits to be built that let the animals live more comfortably and in a more natural habitat. I've been to the Toledo Zoo. The gorillas are in an exhibit basically one-tenth the size of ours. If that. You definitely get an up close and personal look at them, but at the cost that the animals don't have room to move around or establish their own hierarchy.

    A couple of decades ago the Detroit Zoo made the conscious decision to build exhibits that were focused on the well being of the animals. That means we have to walk further. That means sometimes the animals actually have a place to hide. That means we actually decline having certain animals on exhibits (we moved our elephants out with one of the reasons being that they didn't have a lot of space, where the elephants in Toledo basically get to stand there). All for the well being of the animals.

    If those things make our zoo 'mediocre', well, I'll be honest, I'll take a mediocre zoo any day of the week over one that crams animals together so that us humans don't have to walk as far.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by EGrant View Post
    And had to close it becuase it was leaking... But I agree with your overall points.
    Yeah, that definitely sucks, but that was basically a mess-up by the contractor and shouldn't take anything away from the overall design, layout, experience, and well thought out planning towards the animals, all of which is extraordinary.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by sirrealone View Post
    Besides, do we really need two separate zoos in that close proximity to another?
    Well, we had them both for 74 years. In fact, the Belle Isle Zoo predated the present zoo by 33 years (it was the "Detroit Zoo" until 1928). Detroiters thought of the zoos as being like the 2 zoos in Chicago or the big Bronx Zoo and the smaller zoos in each borough in NYC. The Detroit Zoological Society obviously valued it too, since they comprehensively rebuilt the Belle Isle Zoo twice, once in the late '40s (Children's Zoo), and again in the early '80s (Safariland).

    In any event, I never really thought of a zoo in the city on an island in the river and one out in the suburbs at 10 Mile Rd. as being in close proximity at all. For a lot of people in the actual City of Detroit, particularly here on the east side, the Belle Isle Zoo was much closer and more reachable. In my childhood and adolescence I think I could count on one hand the number of times I was out to the big zoo on 10 Mile, but my family went to the Children's Zoo on Belle Isle several times a year. And we took at least one field trip there from school every year too.

    My larger point though isn't necessarily to call for the reestablishment of a real zoo on Belle Isle (although, imo, that would be a wonderful sign of Detroit's and the park's comeback). I do realize that current fiscal realities, the advanced decayed state of the old zoo area, and overall modern trends in zoo management, may very likely present insurmountable odds for such a project. I'm just saying that we are well past the time to do something one way or the other about the mess that was left in the middle of the island after the Belle Isle zoo was abandoned in 2002. Particularly with the state takeover and the money being put into the park by the state parks and Penske.

    Whether we get a zoo or some other facility on that land, or simply have it turned into public woodland or into badly needed open picnic and recreational land, something needs to get moving in the pipeline. I would add that the old golf course should similarly be either refurbished or repurposed to something useful to parkgoers. This will return the middle of the island to the public, as it should be.
    Last edited by EastsideAl; November-20-19 at 06:58 PM.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheels View Post
    Topical liberal millennial. Let’s put pressure on our benefactor. We want moooooore.
    What in the world...sheesh

  21. #21

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    I'd like to see disc golf come back. Off topc though.

    Stromberg2

  22. #22

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    It would be cool to have it return as a zoo specifically for Michigan wildlife. Rip out the overhead walkways and rebuild the concession stands at ground level and it’d work fine.

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