Archive: Detroit Zoo Opens Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness

Gray wolves make their debut; “Wolf” packs enjoy free admission

June 8, 2015

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

The Detroit Zoo today opened its latest animal habitat and introduced its newest residents.  The Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness, located at the southwest corner of the Zoo, is a 2-acre naturalistic habitat that features grassy hills and meadows, native Michigan trees, a flowing stream and pond, dens and elevated rock outcroppings from which wolves can survey their surroundings and Zoo visitors.

The Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness is the new home to two gray wolves – 7-year-old female Waziyata, whose name means “north” in Lakota, and 5-year-old male Kaskapahtew, Cree for “smoke”.  The Canadian-born wolves arrived from the Minnesota Zoo earlier this year.

Detroit Zoo visitors are able to see the wolves from many vantage points around the $1.4 million habitat – including from the historic Log Cabin, which features an observation area with expansive glass viewing windows that allow people to get nose to snout with the wolves.

“Our goal is to provide the wolves with a wonderful home and also to educate our guests about these apex predators and their importance to Michigan’s ecology,” said Ron Kagan, DZS executive director and CEO.  “We’re so grateful to the Cotton family for helping to make the Wolf Wilderness possible.”

To celebrate the opening of the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness, the Zoo invited persons whose name includes “wolf” or a version thereof to enjoy complimentary admission.  Anyone who produced valid photo ID verifying that their first, middle or last name is Wolf – or Wolfe, Wolfson, Wolford, Wulff, Wulfmeier and similar – was eligible for free entry.

In addition to the Cotton’s lead gift toward the development of the wolf habitat, support was also provided by Service Systems Associates, the Detroit Zoo’s operator of concessions and retail, as well as proceeds from last year’s Sunset at the Zoo “Howling at the Moon” event.

The Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness makes its debut just in time for this year’s Sunset at the Zoo “Summer Chill” fundraiser on Friday, June 12, celebrating the future Polk Penguin Conservation Center.  The event features a strolling supper, music, dancing, auctions and access to many of the Zoo’s award-winning animal habitats at twilight.  For information or to purchase tickets, visit