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There’s more to see and do at the Detroit Zoo … skating rink, world’s largest wildlife photo competition exhibit

Arctic Showtime by Audun Rikardsen of Norway

If there is one thing you can count on at the Detroit Zoo, it’s seeing endangered or exotic animals in manmade structures that recreate a natural habitat. However, a more natural, true-to-life, in-the-wild look will be available through April 17 as part of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

Yes, they are just photos, but these photos may be the best way to experience a humpback whale bathed in moon glow or a languor in its native India. The exhibition is free with zoo admission and is sure a lot less expensive than a plane ticket. On the other hand, it may very well encourage you to travel and see these beautiful creatures up close.

The exhibition of winners from the 2016 competition features 100 images dramatically displayed as illuminated large-format color transparencies. The images were chosen from nearly 50,000 entries by photographers from 95 countries. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is the world’s largest and most prestigious wildlife photography competition. The Detroit Zoo’s Ford Education Center was selected for the exhibition’s U.S. debut.

“Year after year, this awe-inspiring exhibition showcases the most incredible images of wildlife from around the globe as well as the skill and perfect timing of the photographers,” says Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society.

Now in its 52nd year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London.

Here are some examples of the photos:

Termite Tossing by Willem Kurger of South Africa

Termite Tossing by Willem Kurger of South Africa

Golden Relic by Dhyey Shah of India

Golden Relic by Dhyey Shah of India

Eviction Attempt by Ganesh H. Shankar of India

Eviction Attempt by Ganesh H. Shankar of India

Thanks to the Detroit Zoo, an international photo safari is only a trip to Royal Oak away.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will be open during Wild Lights, the Detroit Zoo’s holiday display featuring more than five million LED lights.  Presented by Bank of America, Wild Lights is open Nov. 25-27 and Dec. 1-4, 8-11, 15-23 and 26-31.

As a quick aside, you can help Wild Lights at the Detroit Zoo be named the Best Zoo Lights in the US by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice, by voting once a day until noon on Monday, December 5. Click here to vote. Right now our zoo is in second place. The Toledo Zoo’s annual Lights Before Christmas is winning.

While you’re at the zoo, check out the new 1,548-square-foot Winter Rink located in front of the frozen façade of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center. It can accommodate 31 skaters and is open now through February 2017.

Winter Rink 2  Photo by Jennie Miller

The new 1,548-square-foot Winter Rink is located in front of the frozen façade of the Polk Penguin Conservation Center.
Photo by Jennie Miller

Skaters have to be 4-years-old and older, and skaters under 12 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. You can skate between 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily, weather permitting. The last session is sold at 3:30 p.m.

A limited number of skates are available for rent for $7, which includes a 25-minute skating session. The cost if you bring your own skates is $3. Personal skates must be inspected by the rink attendant to ensure proper sharpness. If needed, sharpening will be provided.

“This is a perfect fit for the season and another great reason for families to visit the zoo during the winter,” says Kagan.

Skaters enjoy the new rink, which is made of Glice. Photo by Jennie Miller

Skaters enjoy the new rink, which is made of Glice.
Photo by Jennie Miller

Just so you know the Winter Rink is not made of ice. It a synthetic plastic known as Glice – a material composed of heat-pressed layers of polymers – so no water or electricity is required for operation. The Detroit Zoo is one of only two zoos in the country to install a Glice rink.  The other is the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.

Click here for more information on Detroit Zoo events.

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