Detroit’s Children’s Zoo on Belle Isle

Entrance to the Children’s Zoo-Belle Isle

These italicized texts are the descriptions found on the reverse of each of these postcards.

The first American zoo to be designed and built especially for children.  Stories of childhood are the backgrounds for the animals exhibited.  Presented to the people of Detroit in 1947 by the Zoological Park Commissioner and Mrs. James S. Holden.

Bottle Feeding. The zoo attendant on the right is my Aunt Mary.

One of the scheduled activities that make this zoo unique.  Trained attendants guide the children’s program.

More Bottle Feeding. My Aunt Mary is in the back, mid-right, holding a bottle, pointing face down.

Children and animals enjoy each other’s company in this popular exhibit.  Special food and bottles of milk may be obtained to feed the animals.

Sea Lion Exhibit.

 A recent addition to the Children’s Zoo on Belle Isle is the colorful Sea Lion Pool.  At feeding time , visitors throw fish from the raised platform to the cavorting sea lions below.

The Merry Miller.

A gay exhibit of waterfowl and other animals of the Children’s Zoo on Belle Isle.

Some sheep, and other exhibits.

Children’s Zoo Exhibits are separated by landscape design that makes each exhibit an individual unit.  Fences are low so that animals may come up and visit with the children.

Pet Ring. The children are allowed to pet the animals.

A scheduled activity, where animals are brought together with the children under the strict supervision of experienced attendants.

I recently found these old postcards.  They’re from Dexter Press from West Nyack, New York.  They were photographed by Maurice C. Hartwick.  I think they’re part of a larger set of 10 to 20 cards that were done in that era.  The zoo opened in 1947.  These were likely shot between 1949 and 1951.  I’ll try to track it down.

That’s my late Aunt Mary in two of these.  I think my Aunt Pat also worked there briefly.  Then, my brother Matt worked at the Children’s Zoo for its last three years.  He also worked at the Aquarium on Belle Isle.  He witnessed the end of it all.

The collection of photos here includes nice old shots of the children’s zoo:

http://detroiturbex.com/content/parksandrec/bizoo/bizoo.html

A 1961 home movie!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLtjyfc6kio

My previous blog post on the Detroit Zoo:

https://maugre22.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/sounds-from-the-detroit-zoo-circa-1959/

Mr. Dexter of Dexter Press:

http://www.cardcow.com/198171/thomas-dexter-founder-press-men/

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2 Responses to “Detroit’s Children’s Zoo on Belle Isle”

  1. Don Handy (Mud) Says:

    Thanks, Maurice. I always loved going to the Cilldren’s Zoo on Belle Isle, even (especially?) after I became an adult.

  2. nancy cacciola Says:

    im looking for the ribbon cutting ceremony picture of belle isle children zoo. . taken approx july 1947. thanks

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