Walk in the door, and parrots caw. Turn a corner, and you’re face to face with an enormous monitor lizard. He’s behind glass, as are most of the reptiles at the Great Lakes Zoological Society’s new Reptile Zoo, so you can study the intricate patterns on his skin without apprehension.
Education’s the primary goal of the Zoo. “We focus on reptiles and birds and hope to have an impact on preserving animal species both in the wild and in captivity,” says founder Mark Creswell. Exhibitions are well marked, and all of the creatures have names (except for the spiders and the monster cockroaches, which may even make adults wary). You’ll find an astonishing variety of lizards, snakes, turtles, and frogs: more than 70 species, all peacefully hanging out in enclosures designed to mimic their natural environments. Nearly 80% of the animals were either rescued or surrendered. You can even adopt one; he or she will stay at the center, but your donation will help provide food, water, and maintain the correct temperature conditions. (Reptiles like it warm.)
The Society offers birthday parties, classes, field trip opportunities, and summer camp, and there’s a terrific gift shop. Pick up a stuffed animal fashioned as a python to remind you of the real one. Unlike him, the toy isn’t 18 feet long. Then again, it’s a lot cuddlier! Admission: 2 and under, free; 3-11, $5; 12 and up, $7; seniors, $5. Memberships available.
Great Lakes Zoological Society Conservation and Rescue Center, 6885 Jackson Rd. Open 7 days a week, 10am-6pm. 734-332-1628. www.glzszoo.com. —NB