I’ll admit it. I’ve never been to a zoo before. Even though I grew-up close to the Utica (New York) Zoo and the zoo in Syracuse, I never thought about going. And when my fifth grade class took a field trip to the Utica Zoo, I was sick.
So if you’re like me, but you want to venture into the wild kingdom, Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo is a good place to start.
It’s clean, well-kept and the staff is friendly and willing to answer any questions you have.
It’s also home to a bevy of animals including camels, a lioness, three tigers, a rhino, otters, a vulture and more.
Zookeeper Jan Brigham said zoos aren’t about entertainment as much anymore.
“It’s more about conservation and education,” she said. “The wild is getting smaller and smaller and that’s why a lot of animals are endangered.”
So I went with NOISE photographer Jeremy Herliczek and we found three cool things to check out at the zoo, including a few of the newest additions.
Baby Snow Leopard
Born on May 4, this little guy looks like a stuffed animal. But don’t be fooled by his cute little white face; his paws are already the size of a human fist.
When Jeremy and I walked in, the leopard was in his room listening to the radio. (Seems he likes Diddy.)
Brigham said not many zoos have snow leopards.
“His mother was born here but she didn’t take care of him,” she said. “They are endangered, so that’s why we do everything to save him.”
A native to the mountainous region of central and south Asia, the snow leopard should grow to about 75 pounds.
After about 10 minutes, the little guy started growling and I’m not going to lie: it was scary.
Three Amur (Siberian) Tigers
If you’ve never seen a tiger before, you’d be surprised to see that they act a little bit like the average house cat. But while your house cat can tear apart your couch, these cats can tear you apart, even if they’re just playing. The zoo has three, including a 230-pound male; all of them were born on site.
Brigham said the tigers know about 20 commands and love to play with a garage door spring in their cage.
As cubs, the cats were fed with a bottle, but as soon as they started eating meat, that’s the last time a zookeeper has entered the cage.
On May 4, the zoo welcomed the birth of two penguins, boosting their number to 10. Common to South America, these guys plodded their way around their space — complete with a pool chilled to 55 degrees.
The chicks didn’t have as much white coloring as the adults and didn’t seem too afraid of us when we went up to them in their separate cage.
We had a good time watching these little guys (who are about 18 inches tall) eat a copious amount of fish.
“They get to eat as many fish as they want two times a day,” said zookeeper Linda Wager.