visiting the Potter Park Zoo – Lansing Michigan
Located just little off 496 and south downtown Lansing you’ll find Potter Park Zoo. There is a bridge that is notorious for trucks getting stuck under it (because it’s only allows 12 feet while most are 14 feet or more here).
Follow the drive and see the well kept grounds that are perfect for picnics, walkers and bikers. There is even play equipment for the kids BEFORE you get into the zoo, so you can keep your kids entertained for an entire day here. (not to mention burn off energy).
History of Potter Park
In 1915, J.W. and Sarah Potter donated land to the City of Lansing which later became known as Potter Park. The first animal arrived in 1920, an elk. Sophie Turner donated additional land, bringing the park size to a whopping 102 acres. Various exhibits were added turning the park into what is now Potter Park Zoo.
Visiting the Exhibits
Currently there are no paper maps, so once you pay and enter the zoo, there is a map that shows you the different exhibits. You may want to print out a copy so you have something to reference. We found taking pictures AND trying to find the map on the phone, cumbersome.
There are animal footprints for you to follow to the exhibits. We found everyone was traveling in a pack that arrived with us, so we skipped a few exhibits to get a head of the crowd to enjoy some other exhibits with fewer people. It allowed us to see things at a slower pace.
One of the first exhibits is the bald eagle. Don’t worry if you don’t get a great view on the way in, you’ll also see this exhibit from the back side on the way out.
Near the front of the zoo, is the farm yard. You can see various farm animals. The chickens were my favorite.
The giant anteater was a huge hit with my son. Though we did not see any ant hills for the anteater to destroy.
Walking Through the Zoo
When walking through the zoo, sometimes it takes patience to see the animals. Not all of them will be up at the fence wanting to see you. We found that some were off in the distance, but if you waited, some were curious and would come to look at you (like the tiger and anteater).
You may even see a peacock (or ten) roaming freely in the foliage. We had a couple peek out of the greenery and found one on top of a barn in the barnyard.
The sun was out when we arrived, so it was nice to see the animals soaking up some sun and taking naps. Who would want to disturb a lion anyway?
Meeting the Baby Rhino
I did not get a great picture of the baby rhino. I was taking a video and they sort of ran up to where we were located and it made it hard to see. While I’m over 5 feet, the rhinos were standing close to the fence and it make it hard to look and see them. I got a better view of mama and her baby on video. Baby rhinos are adorable and definitely glad we caught a glimpse of them.
There are two areas to see the rhino, my suggestion is to not go to the one that is a ramp area, but go further down and stand there. You’ll have a better view (in my opinion), to see the rhinos.
Before You Leave
You can walk around the entire zoo. And before you head out the exit, if there was something you missed, you can go through again (no cost because you didn’t leave), to see it again. I know sometimes animals are hiding and you can’t see them in their enclosures (we saw 1 meerkat..where were his buddies) So another round maybe necessary if your party is up for it.
Stop and see the elk. It’s how the park got started and we caught the elk in the morning. It was just stunning to see them grazing and the way the sun was hitting them across the water.
Things to know:
- parking is not free
- the zoo is limiting the number of people entering at one time, so online purchase of tickets is recommended to get the time you want to go
- you can purchase tickets online (including parking)
- wear comfortable shoes
- check the weather before planning your day
- because of covid, drinking fountains are closed
- masks are required in enclosures and around other groups
- walking through the park there are signs that guide you through to avoid cross traffic
- read the signs, some exhibits require you to wait until the party before you has left
- if you didn’t see everything, start over and hit up the exhibits you missed
- experience the other things Lansing has to offer on your visit in town.