Detroit, MI

Most People have Forgotten about this Abandoned Michigan Zoo

Travel Maven

There’s something particularly unsettling about an abandoned zoo—the crowds, excitement, and laughter that once filled the park seem to linger long after the park shutters its doors. In Michigan, you'll find what was once a popular Midwest destination that now sits decaying in the middle of a charming island just outside of Detroit. Keep reading to learn more.

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The Detroit Zoo first opened its doors in 1910 on Detroit’s beloved island park known as Belle Island. During its peak, the zoo drew in thousands of visitors from across the region who wanted an up-close look at everything from seals to elephants and even baby tigers. Eventually, the Detroit Zoo was transferred to its current Royal Oak location in the mid-1950s. The original space on Belle Isle soon became a children’s zoo. This version of the zoo remained in operation until the 1980s when it was rebranded as "Safariland."

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Following an unfortunate series of animal escapes and serious financial troubles, the zoo on Belle Island was forced to close in the early 2000s. It has remained abandoned for more than a decade.

In recent years, the Belle Isle Nature Center has brought new life to the area and even taken in some of the animals who previously called the zoo home.

The decaying zoo complex, however, remains an eerie reminder of the past as it sits mostly untouched, slowly being reclaimed by nature. If you're interested in seeing more of the abandoned zoo, be sure to check out this fascinating footage of what the inside of the property looks like today uploaded to YouTube a few years ago.

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