GarLyn Zoo: See Tigers, Wolves, Bears and More in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
On our most recent trip to the Upper Peninsula, we finally stopped at an attraction along US-2 that we had passed by many times over the years: GarLyn Zoological Park. This Michigan zoo is less than an hour away from Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island, St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge, which makes it a great addition to a family trip to the Straits area. We found this small zoo quite pleasant, clean and well-run, with a respectable assortment of animals considering the location.
The animal enclosures at GarLyn Zoo all have a natural feel to them, incorporating the existing landscape and no doubt making mountain lions, porcupines, bears and other animals feel right at home. Views of the animals are more up-close and personal than at larger zoos, with the tiger and wolf exhibits having glass viewing areas. Cones with feed are available, and sitka deer, goats and others will be more than happy to munch on some treats right out of your hand.
Highlights at this zoo include the two tigers, Hutch the grizzly bear cub, the wolf exhibit, a pair of mountain lions, and a fascinating exhibit featuring Mille the Syrian brown bear and King the dog. A sign next to that exhibit tells how the bear was in need of companionship when it was taken in and the dog was adopted from a shelter after having no luck in finding a home. The two have become unlikely best friends, and we were fortunate to get to see these two “play-fighting” while we were there. Apples are available for purchase in the gift shop and can be fed to Millie through a PVC tube that runs into the enclosure.
Other animals included alligators, tortoises, a camel, otters, foxes, reindeer, and a coyote. A petting zoo type area features goats, pigs, llamas and alpacas while countless chickens and peafowl roam about freely. This is a great family-friendly attraction and a visit to each exhibit will take about two hours.
Of the 71 reviews on TripAdvisor at the time of this writing, 59 were incredibly positive. The most frequent complaints related to the cost, which is $12 for adults, $6 for kids or $36 for a family (up to 6). We definitely felt like we got our money’s worth, and it is important to keep in mind that running a zoo of this nature in such a location isn’t cheap and admission revenue is pretty much the only thing paying the bills – and that a short summer tourism season must bring in enough money to sustain the zoo all year. On the same trip we visited the larger, much more hyped Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, MN and left disappointed after paying a similar admission price and only seeing a few active animals and many closed exhibits/lots of wasted space. Consider stopping by GarLyn Zoo on your next trip to the U.P. and supporting this family-friendly Michigan zoo!
GarLyn Zoo is located on US-2 approximately 40 miles west of St. Ignace and 6 miles east of Naubinway, with Lake Michigan literally right across the road. More information can be found on their website, http://www.garlynzoo.com/ or on their frequently updated Facebook page. Stay tuned next Friday when we feature more pictures from our visit in a Photo Gallery.