On-site Initiatives

DTE Energy Foundation Humane Science Lab

One of several interpretive studios in the Ford Education Center, the DTE Energy Foundation Humane Science Lab is the hub of many of the Academy’s programs. The Lab provides an opportunity for students to learn about utilizing humane methods of study like virtual dissection models and simulations. Additionally, students, teachers and visitors experience other programs that model gentle ways of teaching and learning science. Outfitted with eco-friendly décor, the DTE Energy Foundation Humane Science Lab is wrapped in a large-scale humane education mural. It highlights ecological footprints of countries around the world, animals rescued by the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) and the message of “walking softly and treating the Earth’s creatures gently.”

Backyards for Wildlife

Backyards for Wildlife areas, such as the butterfly garden located near the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, show visitors ways they can create desirable habitats for indigenous animals and plants. This area demonstrates that helping animals begins in your own backyard. Interpretive graphics emphasize the need and benefit of this type of backyard program. This is a model that can also be used to inspire a Schoolyard for Wildlife.

Performing Arts

The nationally acclaimed Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit was commissioned to create a humane education production, Zoomanity. Working with DZS staff, this talented group of youth produced a piece that promotes a better understanding of how we affect the world of animals, including the ones that live with humans – our pets. This production instills a strong sense of empathy for our pets, promotes responsible pet choice and care and motivates audiences to treat animals with respect and kindness. They also created a humane education medley. This medley is appealing to youngsters and has been used in a wide variety of programs. DZS visitors vary in their learning styles and aural learners are particularly receptive to song.


Docents, or volunteer educators, have contact with thousands of Zoo visitors each year at both facilities, through guided tours and informal learning experiences. They promote a humane ethic when interacting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Each docent training class includes a session dedicated to Humane Education. This includes a presentation that discusses humane education issues and the stories of the many rescued animals at the Society in order to better share humane education concepts with tour participants and guests. Annual re-certification for docents also includes a humane education component.

Humane Education Film

The DZS has produced a film by Academy Award winner Sue Marx. “From Animal Showboat to Animal Lifeboatillustrates the many ways animals in entertainment are exploited and suggests a different course for the future. This film won an Emmy and was co-written and co-produced by DZS Director Ron Kagan. This film is available to view in its entirety on the Zoo’s website.

Media and Signage

The DZS’ frequent press releases about issues involving animal protection and substantial on-site signage about rescue animals create visibility for the problems associated with keeping exotic animals, animals in entertainment and other welfare topics. They also encourage people to become animal advocates.