Archive: Get Fit in the New Year at the Detroit Zoo

Log up to 7,000 steps in one loop; burn calories on the Winter Rink

January 2, 2017

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

Surveys show that the majority of people ditch their New Year’s resolutions within a week, but Detroit Zoo-goers can make theirs stick all winter long. A loop through the Zoo’s 125 acres can result in 7,000 steps on a Fitbit and similar fitness trackers – and the Zoo’s new Winter Rink also provides an opportunity to burn calories.

“Exercising doesn’t have to be a chore and, in fact, it can be a fun experience,” said Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society executive director and CEO. “A visit to the Detroit Zoo this winter is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and engage with wildlife – providing a healthy dose of both vitamin D and ‘Vitamin Z’.”

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center – located just inside the entrance – offers a chance to log 400 steps while observing more than 80 penguins exploring their 325,000-gallon, 25-foot deep aquatic area. A visit to the nearby Butterfly Garden – always a balmy 75 degrees – followed by the Edward Mardigian Sr. River Otter Habitat, National Amphibian Conservation Center and Holden Reptile Conservation Center will add a thousand steps to the tally.

From there, guests can check out the Bactrian camels, red pandas, tiger, lions and snow monkeys – all winter-hardy animals – and help their step counts skyrocket. A quick warmup inside the rhinoceros building provides an opportunity to observe these majestic creatures while filling up reusable bottles with free, filtered water. Nearby, the giraffes can be seen indoors as well.

The trek from giraffes, past the bear dens, through the Australian Outback Adventure, along the Cotton Family Wolf Wilderness and over to the bison habitat adds another thousand steps and an opportunity to see more cold-weather animals in action. With a visit to the Barn, followed by a loop through the Artic Ring of Life – where three arctic foxes, two polar bears and five rescued seals can be seen exploring their habitats – guests can soar ahead in stats against their fitness-tracking friends.

The Arctic Café offers a chance to refuel with healthy food options to help guests adhere to their New Year’s diets. Hummus and crudité cups are available for those looking for a quick snack, or visitors can dive into a build-your-own salad bar, a soup-and-salad combo meal, grilled chicken or vegan burgers. Gluten-free options are available, and accommodations can be made by request for guests with other food sensitivities.

For another calorie-busting experience at the Detroit Zoo, the new Winter Rink is open through the end of February. A 25-minute skating session can burn up to 200 calories. The cost for guests to rent skates and take a spin on the rink is $7; for those who bring their own skates, the cost is $3.

More opportunities for adventure and healthy living at the Detroit Zoo lay ahead in the new year. A family-friendly bicycle safari in June will allow guests to peddle past penguins and polar bears as they experience the Zoo like never before. In addition, Pure Greens, an outdoor eatery located near the Arctic Café, is open in the summer and features a 100-percent vegan menu.