Tucked away in the southwest corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula just 15 miles from Menominee, the DeYoung Family Zoo boasts a collection of more than 400 animals – including one of the most impressive collections of “big cats” in the entire state. tigers, white tigers, lions, cougars, leopards and more can be seen here, in a close-up setting that is quite different from large-city zoos. We visited around opening time on a weekday last summer, and were pretty surprised to find the parking lot already more than half full given the remote location.
Among the first animals near the entrance of the zoo are the bears. On the day we were there, there were feeding times posted for those interested in coming back and seeing the bears in action.
Next up is an open petting zoo area with llamas, a horse and other animals. It’s kind of a weird sight to see this part of the zoo where it is, as it is flanked on all sides by the big cat exhibits. Speaking of big cats, that brings us to the next highlight, the white tigers:
The tigers were all pretty active on the day we were there, and when they get close up by the fence they are only 10-15 feet away which makes for a pretty cool experience. The lion exhibit is nearby, although they appeared to be a lot lazier than their striped counterparts when we visited:
It may not be easy to take great pictures through the fences, but the zoo as a whole has more of an intimate, natural feel than its larger counterparts. There are photo holes cut in a few of the outer fences, and when tigers get this close it’s easy to suddenly be thankful that the fence is in place!
The big cats get a lot of attention due to their place at the front of the zoo, but there is plenty more to discover in the back. Wolves (including one with three legs), foxes, hyenas and more exotic animals as well as a large selection of North American animals are here:
Another highlight to the back part is the hippo exhibit, which is quite large and gives this massive mammal some room to roam.
We found the admission price ($12 adult, $8 child) to be more than reasonable for the amount of animals on hand. Kids will love how close they can get to the big cats, as well as some of the interactive opportunities. It’s a bit out of the way from the Eastern U.P., but well worth the trip if you find yourself in the Menominee, Escanaba or Green Bay, WI areas. Plan on spending at least 2 hours here if you want to see all of the animals.
The DeYoung Family Zoo is located at N5406 County Road 577, Wallace, MI 49893.