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Belle Isle Nature Center reopens to public after $2.5M renovation

DETROIT, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - A unique wildlife and nature experience reopens Sept. 28th at the Belle Isle Nature Center following a $2.5 million renovation. Closed since March 2020, the Nature Center, operated by the Detroit Zoological Society, is now home to all-new exhibits and animal habitats designed to celebrate urban wildlife and highlight the intersection of humans, infrastructure and nature.  

"We are so proud of this new facility, and after more than two years of being closed, we are ready to show everyone what we have been working on," said Amy Greene, nature centers director for the DZS. "We have so many new and exciting features for guests to explore."

Located on 5 acres at the northeastern tip of Belle Isle State Park in Detroit, the Belle Isle Nature Center offers unique educational, environmental and natural experiences that help connect people with urban nature. 

Frog & Toad Crawl Through provides exciting views of gray treefrogs and American toads from the see-through domes inside the habitat Belle Isle Nature Center- Detroit Zoo

Highlights of the upgrades include:

  • A major renovation of the entrance lobby, featuring reclaimed materials from the old Belle Isle Zoo
  • An expanded mudpuppy habitat
  • A replica, walkthrough Detroit sewer tunnel, where visitors explore the areas where city infrastructure and wildlife intersect
  • A pollinator area that allows guests to see how bumblebees experience their world
  • Expansive habitats for animals who call the Belle Isle Nature Center home, including turtles, mudpuppies, bullfrogs, snakes and urban woodland reptiles
The Sewer-Tunnel Walkthrough transforms the main hallway entrance, inviting guest to explore how animals use city infrastructure. Belle Isle Nature Center- Detroit Zoo

"The Belle Isle Nature Center is truly unique," Greene said. "We've completely reimagined a new nature center that puts the focus on urban wildlife. Our intention is to reinforce the connections people have and the spaces they share with the nature that surrounds us. We want people to feel that nature is where we already are — we just have to notice and appreciate it."  

The mudpuppy habitat provides a large pool for the aquatic amphibians and excellent view for guests Belle Isle Nature Center- Detroit Zoo

The Belle Isle Nature Center is free for guests to attend and is open daily to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility offers a variety of community and educational programming including the Nature Center's successful program, Nature Tots. For a full schedule of happenings and events, please visit

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