Outreach Initiatives

Local and Regional Community Events

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) participates in many community events throughout the year. An integral aspect, the Berman Academy for Humane Education offers information that encourages people to think about their impact on the Earth and its inhabitants and provides them with tools that help to lessen their ecological footprint.

City Critters

The DZS received a 2010 Significant Achievement in Education award from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) for its City Critters outreach program. The award, presented at the AZA Annual Conference in Houston, Texas, recognizes outstanding achievement in educational program design.

City Critters enables children to develop an awareness of the animals that share their neighborhoods. Learning about these creatures enables children to better understand and appreciate them. Children are encouraged to study and enjoy wildlife from a distance. This program teaches strategies to peacefully coexist.

City Critters also includes a discussion on responsible pet care. Children are taught that their pets rely upon them to provide for all of their needs, including food, fresh water, exercise and love. The importance of always having proper identification on their pet is also emphasized.

The DZS works with local universities to train pre-service student teachers in humane education. As part of the training, the university students learn how to facilitate City Critters and help us to reach thousands of elementary school students each year.

The City Critters outreach program is offered to underserved schools, including Detroit Public Schools, throughout the year.

City Critters Goals
  • To promote an ethic of gentleness for other living creatures
  • To create better awareness and empathy of wildlife that share our environments
  • To promote appropriate pet choice and care (along with our colleagues at local humane societies)


City Critters Key Concepts
  • All animals are remarkable.
  • Humans have changed the natural environment. Some animals have adapted to this changed environment and reside in urban areas.
  • Wild animals are different than domestic animals.
  • Wild animals should be enjoyed from a distance so as not to disturb them.
  • All animals (including humans) have similar needs – food, water, shelter, and appropriate social and physical environments.
  • Our pets rely upon us to provide for all of their needs.
  • Backyards and Schoolyards for Wildlife can be created to develop wildlife-friendly areas.
  • Discovery of injured wildlife should be reported to a trusted adult who can then reach out to a local rehabilitator or shelter.