My family and I spent several days all over Michigan’s Upper Peninsula recently. This is the first time I have really explored the UP. While I loved the relaxing downtime with my family, I was also VERY excited about the amazing outings we went on!Of course, we had to check out some of the tourist traps, like Castle Rock and The Mystery Spot.
We took a trip over to the DeYoung Zoo, which was amazing. This is a zoo in a very rural setting and was a bit different from the zoos I am used to. The set-up allowed you to get closer to the animals and interact with several of them. The DeYoung’s are obviously invested in giving their animals the best enclosures they can and were renovating several areas when we were there. The absolute best part was every half hour or so they would let you interact with the baby animals and they let you feed the hippo.
I know that this may lead some people to be upset, as it’s not really the way to increase awareness on how you should interact with wild animals and some of the cages were on the smaller side. However, all of the animals that live at the DeYoung zoo are rescues and have nowhere else to go (to my understanding). This means several of them are retired ‘actors’ or where personally owned at sometime. So the majority have already been hand-raised around humans and expect/desire this kind of interaction.
As for the baby animals, I know they are born at the zoo. But I am not sure whether they stay there or are relocated to other zoos. They are all hand-raised, which could be an issue at other zoos and I am torn on how I feel about them being born into captivity if they could function in the wild. However, that is an issue I have with most zoos.
This is a bit of a detour in storytelling, but I am constantly torn between my desire to interact as closely and personally with animals as possible, increase animal education, and allow others a chance to fall in love with them as well, which are all things zoos help with; however, I also feel that it is unfair for an animal who could live in the wild to not live there. This is why I really like supporting zoos and reservations who take in animals that (for whatever reason) can no longer live in the wild. (I know this all might come as a surprise, from someone who is having their wedding at a zoo. Like I said I am torn. I do believe that most zoos (particularly the Toledo Zoo) take very good care of their animals and donate a lot of money/awareness towards animal conservation. So there is that to allay my conscience.)
As a note, I would like to remind everyone that every domesticated animal came from a wild species that was specifically bred by humans to be domesticated and kept in captivity. This doesn’t really make me feel better or worse about anything in particular, but I do feel it is something people should keep in mind when they are upset with our current system of captivity but OK with owning domesticated animals. Just a thought, not advocating for any point of view. Particularly, since I have a hard time understanding my own view on this subject.
The next place we visited was the Oswald Bear Ranch (see above for my feelings on keeping animals in captivity), which reminded me a lot of the DeYoung zoo, except they only had bears and thus could support much larger enclosures. I am not really sure how/why they obtained the bears and cubs. But they did seem pretty content and well cared for.
We rounded out the trip by visiting something not animal related: several waterfalls and the Pictured Rocks. We took a day to go around to the more prominent waterfalls and then took the Painted Rocks sunset cruise (so romantic) and got up-close and personal with several ledges, beaches, nooks, crannies, and Lake Superior.
It was a fantastic week and I would recommend anyone headed to the UP to check out these attractions.