Tours and Programs

Potter Park Zoo is dedicated to education, which is why the wildlife and conservation educational programs here are some of the best in the country!  Additionally, all of our programs are correlated to the State of Michigan science curriculum benchmarks and standards.  Each program can be designed as a Zoo tour, an "outreach" where docents come to visit your class, or an encounter where you come to a class in the zoo's Discovery and Education Center. If you are interested in arranging a program, please call our Society office at (517) 342-2713.

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Programs

General Program

Want to meet everyone at the zoo? This program introduces you to over 100 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Discover fascinating facts and interesting trivia about our animal friends.

Sensational Zoo

In this program, students will learn all about how animals see, hear, smell, taste, and touch in ways that help them survive in the wild. They'll see examples of different birds, reptiles, and mammals that use these senses in extraordinary ways and how their bodies physically adapt to accommodate their lifestyles.

Fur, Feather, Scales & Slime

Why do some animals have fur while others have feathers? What's that slimy stuff on frogs used for? By taking a look at these different kinds of surface adaptations, students will learn some of the most basic differences between birds, reptiles, fish, mammals, and amphibians.

Animals in Winter

Unlike us, animals cannot relax in a heated home or office in the winter. But you will be amazed by the variety of ways animals do prepare for winter! Learn about physiological and behavioral adaptations such as coat changes, fat deposition, hibernation, and migration.

What's for Lunch?

It's eat or be eaten in the Wild Kingdom! Learn how animals develop amazing strategies for catching food; and how they avoid becoming dinner themselves! Students learn basic concepts about camouflage, stalking techniques, and more.

Last Ark

Zoos are more than just fun places to see wild animals. They are also the last hope for many endangered species. Come learn what is imperiling such wonderful animals as rhinos, tigers, and pandas, and how zoos like Potter Park cooperate in the international efforts to save them.

Careers at the Zoo

Find out about opportunities in zoo and aquarium fields that involve wildlife and their captive care, including education requirements, training, position descriptions, salary ranges, and available opportunities, all of which will be discussed as you meet the animals.

Meet Your Neighbor

This program makes students aware of the wildlife right here in Michigan and North America. Learn fascinating facts about deer, opossums, bears, bighorn sheep, and more.

Sexual Dimorphism

Have you ever wondered why males of certain species differ from the females of the same species? Well, most people know that male birds often have more colorful feathers than female birds, but sometimes there's more to it than that. In this zoo program students will come to understand terms such as courtship, dimorphism, display, flehmen behavior, and stimulus. (This program is recommended for students in high school or above)

Habitats

Learn the basics of what comprises a habitat and how it differs from a biome or ecosystem. Concepts also include animal adaptations, niches, species extirpation, and more.

How to Choose a Pet

How do you know what pet is right for your family?  Depending on your lifestyle even a dog or cat may not be suitable.  Can you handle feeding live mice to a snake?  Will you be able to care for a parrot for your entire life?  Learn about these and other considerations before getting a exotic pet.

Animal Adaptations

How do animals survive in different climates and habitats? What physical and behavioral changes do they adopt? This program answers these questions, plus explains concepts such as niche switching, migration, and hibernation.

Exhibit Design

Making wild animals comfortable in a zoo is not easy! Learn what goes behind the design of our exhibits and how the animals' needs sometimes conflict with the public's expectations. You'll also hear about some of the sometimes funny, sometimes amazing experiences we have had with animals and their exhibits. (Available as a zoo tour only)

 

Girl Scout Tours

The Girl Scout Patch Program, offered by the Zoological Society’s Education Department, was the first zoo program of its kind in the state of Michigan.  Initiated during the 1990-91 school year, each program offers a different and unique Zoo patch.  If you are interested in arranging a tour please call our Education Department at (517) 342-2713.

Myths and Monsters

(K – 2nd grade) In this program, your exploration uncovers the myths and misconceptions surrounding a variety of nature’s “monsters.”  Through a “hands-on” program, your scouts learn about tarantulas, snakes and opossums.  We also learn about the porcupines, wolves, big cats and rhinos.

Do You See What I See?

(2nd – 4th grade)  Animals have a variety of ways to conceal themselves in the wild.  During this adventure, your scouts learn the different types of camouflaging strategies used by a variety of animals and discover how each one works.  Birds, reptiles, the big cats, bighorn sheep and penguins are some of the animals highlighted during this program.

Habitats

(4th – 6th grade) Life in the wild is full of stress, making survival challenging.  Adaptations enable animals to survive a variety of stresses.  During this program, your scouts will explore the extremes of different habitats and discover those adaptations that make an animal fit for survival.  From the tundra setting of the mountains to the steamy darkness of the rain forest, your scouts will begin to recognize animal traits that may be a clue to where in the wild each calls “home.”

Endangered Species

(6th – 8th grade) Through this program, your scouts will explore the reasons how and why animals become extinct.  All creatures are dependent upon one another; all are connected in some way.  These relationships will be explored as well as the unique breeding programs zoos are involved in to help save many of these animals from extinction.  Plenty of endangered animals call our zoo home.  Learn why they are disappearing and how you can help.