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5 votes

Abandoned Belle Isle Children€™s Zoo

Belle Isle, Detroit, Michigan 48209 USA

Free to Visit
  • Independent
  • Not Wheelchair
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“once a vast & well-kept expanse, now reclaimed by nature”

This place is on private property. Listing for informational purposes only. Please do not visit without express permission from the land owner. Detroit’s old abandoned Children’s Zoo – once a vast and well-kept expanse – has today been almost completely reclaimed by nature. As its name suggests, it was located on Belle Isle, at 982 acres (1.5 sq miles), the largest city park on an island in the United States. Situated in the Detroit River, the island also lies in between two countries, the US and Canada. Prior to its closure, the Belle Isle Zoo had a long history. It opened as early as 1895 and was renamed the Children’s Zoo in 1947, at which point buildings were added. In 1980, other developments were made to the zoo with the addition of African-themed architectural details such as wooden roofs and the distinctive raised boardwalk now slowly rotting and being overrun by vegetation. Many of Detroit’s citizens have fond memories of visiting the monkeys, bears, tigers, elephants and hundreds of other animals that were once housed here. Yet, despite the zoo being much loved by locals, in 2002 the later fallen mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, decided to close it, citing budget constraints. To the disappointment of children and adults alike, and in spite of popular opposition, the temporary closure that was announced soon became permanent. Today, in its afterlife, the zoo is frequented by few with the exception of urban explorers – and the last remaining members of a diminishing herd of European fallow deer. The deer were introduced at the turn of the 20th century and ran free on the island for generations, but are now hemmed in inside the old zoo. The abandoned remains tell a sad story.

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  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
November 11, 2013

SO easy to sneak in I was there about a month ago It's SO cool

2 people found this review helpful
  • Foodie
  • 242 Reviews
  • 217 Helpful
June 24, 2014
Rated 5.0

Very very cool. Great for photo ops. If you're on Belle Isle, there's really no reason to not stop and check it out. I don't know if it's legal or not...probably not.

1 person found this review helpful

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Abandoned Belle Isle Children€™s Zoo

Belle Isle
Detroit, Michigan
48209 USA
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