The Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square strives to ignite awareness of, excitement in, and concern for animals and the natural world and its conservation in people of all ages. 

Recycle Roo

The Children's Zoo Believes

  • All life exists within an ecosystem.

  • Human beings are an intergral part of all ecosystems.

  • Healthy ecosystems provide many essential services and benefits that sustain and improve human lives. 

  • The human experience requires a connection to nature. These experiences in wild places in our community enrich our lives and inspire our choices for future generations.

  • Human beings are responsible for dramatic changes to ecosystems at a rate unprecedented in Earth’s history.

  • We have the responsibility to care for the Earth, to leave healthy ecosystems for our families and future generations.

  • Through informed actions, we can positively impact ecosystems.

  • Responsible zoos and aquariums strive to conserve ecosystems and promote care and positive action for the natural world. 


The Zoo's Conservation Efforts

Breeding Programs

  • Lockey, the Children's Zoo's Hingeback tortoise, has been busy saving his species.

    • He is currently on loan at Herpetological Resource Management participating in a breeding program, and has made fast friends with a female Hingeback tortoise named Kinixys.

    • Any baby tortoises hatched through this program will be released into their natural African habitat to help boost the wild population.

Lockey conservation1 Lockey conservation2


  • The Children's Zoo is participating in THREE Species Survival Plans (SSP), an AZA breeding program, since our accreditation in 2009.
      • The critically endangered Cotton-top tamarins
      • The endangered African Black-footed penguins
      • The North American river otter

Cotton-top_Tamarin penguins group2 otterr-b3


Local Conservation

  • The Children's Zoo participates in Adopt-A-Highway along the I-675 corridor, preventing roadside waste from polluting the land and local watershed.  

Global Conservation

  • The Rainforest Parking Meter, located between the Capuchin Monkey and Military Macaw exhibits collects change to protect rainforest acres in need.
  • Locations of protected forests include Guanacastle Conservation Area, Costa Rica; Kunene Region Protected Area, Namibia; and Komodo National Park, Indonesia. 


Fun Conservation Facts  

  • Glass takes more than one million years to decompose (break down and disappear) in our garbage dumps.

  • By recycling a single aluminum can, we save enough energy to run a television for up to three hours.

  • Turning the water off while you brush your teeth can save 2 gallons of water a day!

  • Every year, enough paper is thrown away to make a 12-foot wall from New York to California.

Recycle RooRecycle Roo Program

This program has been developed in collaboration with Mid-Michigan Waste Authority. Recycling stations are located throughout the Zoo in which bottles and cans are collected for recycling. Each station has fun conservation tips. Zoo staff is also working hard with this program to recycle and reduce waste throughout the zoo.

Adopt a Highway

The Children’s Zoo participates in the State of Michigan highway beautification program in which litter is removed from the side of roadways. The Children’s Zoo has maintained a 2.3 mile stretch of northbound and southbound I-75 from M-46-M-81 since January 2007.

Save the Rainforest Donation Meter

Visitors to the Children's Zoo can give donations to help save the rainforest from habitat destruction.  All proceeds benefit rainforest conservation through

Annual Conservation Events

The Children's Zoo has numerous events throughout the season to promote and educate the public about conservation.  These events include but are not limited to:  Go Wild! Earth Day Celebration; Birds, Bugs, Butterflies, and Blooms; Reptile Slither; Zooberfest; Zoo Boo; Arctic Zoo Fest.

Aquaponics and Hydroponics

This Children's Zoo is in the process of implementing this program in conjunction with Saginaw Valley State University. Click here for more information.

HYDROPONICSHydroponics - courtesy of SVSU

What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics basically means "working water". It is a cultivation of plants in a nutrient enriched solution, instead of soil. Plants feed on basic nutrient salts that are created when biological decomposition breaks down organic matter. Rarely in soil will the conditions be completely balanced. However, a hydroponic system uses water enriched with the same nutrient salts, but is easier to maintain.

Plants are grown in an inert growing medium, although the plant does not receive anything from the medium. The medium is more beneficial if it is able to retain water and also porous enough to allow gas exchange. Types of growing mediums include: sand, perlite, gravel, etc. The plant obtains the nutrients needed from the nutrient solution.

Micro nutrients, such as boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc, are required for healthy plant growth. Without these nutrients, plants can become wilted, and unhealthy, affecting not just the plant, but the consumer as well.

The Basics and Types of Hydroponics:

The basics of a hydroponic system include a type of growing tray, a reservoir, a time controlled submersible pump, and air pump, and an air stone. The main purpose of the air pump is to add beneficial oxygen into the hydroponics system. Natural or artificial light are also essential to the process. There are six basic types of hydroponic systems: 1. Wick, 2. Water Culture, 3. Ebb and Flow (flood and drain), 4. Drip (recovery/non-recovery), 5. N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technique), and 6. Aeroponic.

Wick System

In this system, the nutrient rich solution is drawn into the growing medium from a reservoir by means of a wick. The wick absorbs the solution and draws it up into the tray. This system is very simple to use and operate, but is not ideal for plants that need or use large amounts of water. The wick can only deliver small amounts of solution at a time.

Water Culture

Plants are held in place on a floating platform, usually Styrofoam, with the roots soaking directly in the nutrient solution. Air is supplied by the air stone that bubbles the nutrient solution and supplies oxygen to the roots of the plants. The method is great for growing lettuce, but not for large or long-term plants.

Ebb and Flow

This system floods a growing tray with the nutrient solution by means of a timer controlled pump, programmed to run in multiple intervals throughout the day. Once the tray is flooded and the pump is off, the solution is able to drain back into the reservoir. This cycle continues multiple times a day. Power outages, timer or pump failures make this system vulnerable. Plant roots dry out quickly when the cycles are interrupted. The best solution for this potential harmful problem is to use a growing medium that is able to retain large amounts of moisture.

Drip System

The nutrient solution is pumped up and dripped onto the base of each plant by small drip lines. In a recovery system, the excess solution runs off and is collected in the reservoir for re-use. The problem with the recovery system is that large changes in pH levels and nutrient strengths mean more adjusting and checking. The non-recovery system does not collect run-off. The nutrient solution is allowed to remain in the medium until it is used completely. This system is less maintenance because the reservoir is refilled with new solution making the pH levels easier to control.

N.F.T. (Nutrient Film Technique)

This system has a constant flow of nutrient solution pumped into the growing tray, usually a tube, flowing over the roots of the plants before draining back into the reservoir. This system usually does not include a growing medium other than air. The plants are supported in the tube by small plastic baskets that allow the roots to dangle down. The danger of this system is if the flow is disrupted, roots will dry out quickly, especially without a growing medium to retain moisture.


The plant roots are air exposed in this system, and misted with the nutrient solution, usually every few minutes. A timer controls this action, but can be potentially hazardous like the N.F.T. system if the mist is interrupted, the roots will dry out rapidly.

Benefits of using Hydroponics:

  • Food can be produced in parts of the world with soil that cannot sustain plant life.
  • Hydroponic systems eliminate the need for pesticides, since most pests live in the soil. Without pesticides, the Earth’s air, water, and soil will be cleaner. Even the food produced by the plants will be cleaner.
  • Water waste is reduced since most systems recycle the nutrient solution.
  • NO WEEDS!!
  • Hydroponics can save space. Plants can be placed closer together since the roots no longer need to grow and reach for nutrients since the nutrients are brought to them.



What is Aquaponics? Aquaponics - courtesy of SVSUAquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). Herbs and vegetables are able to grow and thrive in the same water system as the fish. Fish excrete ammonia in their waste. In high levels, this can be toxic for both fish and plants. Nitrifying bacteria, which lives in soil and water, convert the ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate. Nitrates are essential for healthy plant growth. Nitrifying bacteria will thrive in gravel in the fish tank as well as the grow bed. The plants will absorb and use the nitrate to grow and thrive, and the water that is returned to the fish tank will contain less nitrates and more oxygen, creating a healthier environment for the fish.

What is Needed?

In order to start an aquaponic garden, you will need: a tank for fish, gravel for the fish tank, a water pump and tubing, an air pump, air stone, and tubing, grow bed, growing medium, and fish and plants of course. Also, you may want to install lighting for both the fish and the plants depending on how the garden is housed (i.e. a garden in a greenhouse should not need artificial light).

What Type of Fish?

The type of fish selected for the system depends entirely on the size. Larger systems can accommodate for larger fish such as tilapia, largemouth bass, and perch. Smaller, at home systems will function with koi and goldfish.

What Type of Plants?

For the most part, leafy greens and lettuce seem to thrive in this kind of system. Herbs such as basil are ideal as well. Other plants are also known to grow successfully such as cucumbers, peppers, melons, tomatoes, and even flowers.

Benefits of Aquaponics:

  • Aquaponic systems uses a fraction of water compared to a soil raised vegetable garden because water is re-used and recycled in an aquaponics system.
  • Plants are fertilized organically as opposed to chemically, by the natural fish waste.
  • By eliminating soil, soil born diseases are also eliminated, as well as weeds, and most pests.
  • Aquaponic systems are relatively easy to maintain. Fish need to be fed daily, and water will need to be replenished and refreshed occasionally in the fish tank.




Message Board to come

Q: Does the membership run a calendar year (January thru December) or from the date of purchase?
A: A membership is good for one full year from the date of purchase. That’s a lot of adventuring!

Q: May I put my membership on hold?
A: Unfortunately, memberships become active immediately upon purchase and cannot be suspended. You are always welcome to purchase a gift certificate for someone to put toward a membership if you wish to present the membership as a gift at a later time.

Q: May I use my membership for special ticketed events, like Zoo Boo?
A: Specially ticketed events, like Zoo Boo and Brew at the Zoo, are additional fundraisers for the Zoo. Because of this, memberships, coupons, and free passes are not applicable towards admission. However, a majority of the otter-ly terrific events at the Zoo ARE covered by your membership, as well as the unlimited train and carousel rides!

Q: How many cards are included with my membership?
A: Generally, the Zoo issues two cards with each membership. A single membership will only receive one card, and any membership that has a caregiver will receive an additional card. You need only present one card at Admissions with photo I.D. to enter.

Q: Who can use my membership?
A: The named adults on the card may use a membership, as well as a named caregiver. If it's a family or grandparent membership, it also covers the number of their own children or grandchildren age 17 and under, as indicated on the membership card. Adults must present a photo I.D. along with their membership card at the Admission booth. Please note that children or grandchildren are unable to adventure through the Zoo without their named adults (as adults get really frustrated when they are left out of the fun).

Q: What is the difference between a caregiver and a guest?
A: The caregiver option is wonderful in that it allows a named caregiver to bring the children and grandchildren on a Zoo adventure without the other named adults! This option is perfect for families that have a nanny, babysitter, or family friend who often looks after the children or grandchildren. We ask that the caregiver present their photo I.D. at the Admissions Booth. The guest option is different in that a guest is unable to adventure without a named adult on the membership present. This option is great for families who are interested sharing their favourite Zoo activities with visiting friends and family members.

Q: I have a membership with a guest (not a caregiver). Can a guest use my membership without me?
A: Your guest membership feature allows any named member on a membership to bring ANY one general visitor with them to the Zoo for free! However, your guest is unable to go on their own WILD Zoo adventure without at least one member named on the card. Please note that your guest feature only covers one guest, and does not include all of the guests’ children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, third cousins, their favourite 2nd grade teacher, or their boss. Imaginary friends are more than welcome! We ask that one of the adults named on the card be present for a general visiting guest to be covered. Sorry, a guest does not add a name to the member card, nor does it replace a member name on the member card. At this time, we do not offer more than one guest per membership.

Q: How can I replace a lost/stolen membership card?
A: Uh oh—a sneaky capuchin monkey must have stolen your membership card! Don’t worry, we have you covered. A replacement card only costs $3. You may order with credit card by phone at (989) 759-1408, or visit the Admission Booth. You can then pick it up at the Admissions Booth during your next visit. You may visit the Zoo in the meantime by presenting your photo I.D. at the Admissions Booth, where you will be issued a day pass which features all of the benefits of your membership.

Q: I am a single parent with one child. Can I purchase a Dual Membership instead of a Family Membership?
A: At this time, dual memberships are available only for two adults living in the same household. We would recommend an individual membership with a guest for only $60, which will cover you and your child for a whole year of exploration and discovery!

Q: If I forget to bring my membership card, can I still visit the Zoo for free?
A: After remembering to grab the wagon, the snacks, the sunblock, and the kids, you arrive at the Zoo and—oh no! You forgot your membership card! Don’t worry, we have you covered. Just bring your photo I.D. to the Admissions booth to verify your status. You will be issued a day pass that acts exactly like your membership card.

Q: Why do I have to show a photo I.D. when I use my membership card to enter the Zoo?
A: To ensure that the membership program is fair for everyone, we ask to see photo I.D. to make sure that a named member of the card is present. We also want to protect our members should their cards be lost or stolen.

Q: Does my membership allow admission to other Zoos and Aquariums?
A: Your membership will grant you FREE or discounted admission to over 232 other zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) across the country! Please find our complete list here. As reciprocating facilities reserve the right to change reciprocal status at any time, please call the facility you plan to visit ahead of time to verify which benefits you will receive. Thank you for supporting AZA and its mission to Save Animals From Extinction!

Q: If I decide to join after my visit, can I apply the cost of my admission tickets towards my membership?
A: Of course! We do ask that you purchase your membership on the same day that you paid admission. Please note that only those individuals covered by the level of membership you purchase will have their admission cost applied to the membership.

Q: Can a Caregiver bring a guest?
A: The wonderful thing about our membership program is that it can be built to fit most situations. The caregiver can bring one guest with them if the card has a guest option. If the caregiver brings additional children or another adult and the membership does not have a guest, all additional guests not covered on the membership or not covered by a guest will need to pay admission and purchase ride tickets.

Q: What if my caregiver changes during my membership?
A: At this time, we are unable to transfer a named caregiver in the middle of a current membership. We apologize for the inconvenience! However, when you go to renew your membership, you will be able to change the name of your caregiver.


Still have a question? Contact Us by email or by phone at (989)759-1408!