I'm sorry, but these pictures make me angry.
How many millions/billions of dollars go through Detroit, yet simple upkeep of a supposed "nature center" is somehow impossible.
I'm sorry--I don't share your optimism, researcher. Perhaps the DNR will do "something" sometime, but its not happening now.
This blog post has a pretty good history of what exactly happened to the Belle Isle Zoo. It was closed by that criminal, Kwame Kilpatrick...over the objections of just about everybody:
Detroit does still have an operating zoo. A good one, in fact, built on an island of city-owned land two miles north of the city border, within wealthy Oakland County. But for over a century the city operated a separate facility first known as the Belle Isle Zoo (which opened in 1895---the same year the European deer were introduced to the island) and then the Children's Zoo (starting in 1947).
In 2002, disgraced former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick closed the Belle Isle Children's Zoo despite opposition from the City Council, claiming the pressure of the city's $75 million budget deficit. City council overrode his veto and freed up $700,000 to reopen the zoo. In that year's November election 88 percent of Detroit voters approved a nonbinding ballot initiative to reopen it. Kilpatrick ignored both and shuttered the zoo, shipping off the animals and calling the move temporary. "We need to really figure out what we want there," Kilpatrick said. Of course the "temporary" closure became permanent. Kilpatrick used money appropriated for the reopening of the zoo to fund a "Nature Center" on the most remote and unvisited part of the 982-acre island, including $1 million for a brand new enclosure for the island's dwindling herd of 20 fallow deer.
*****Pay attention to this paragraph*****
Seven companies submitted bids to build it, and the city building authority (run by the mayor's cousin), selected a company that had never before built an animal enclosure against the bids of several experienced zoo contractors. The first act of the winning bidder was to subcontract the construction to a company owned by the former mayor's longtime best friend (and fellow convicted felon) Bobby Ferguson, a man who has benefited from an untold number of similar schemes over the years (to the tune of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars). That is how business is done in the city of Detroit. And these are some of the results...
The Belle Isle Zoo has been closed now for over six years. Many people from this area have fond memories of visiting it as children. There were elephants here. Bears. Monkeys. Tigers. Some of the zoo's big cats were rumored to have been rescued from lives guarding Detroit crackhouses. In 1980, the zoo was completely rebuilt to adhere to more modern ideas of natural habitats with a lengthy elevated boardwalk and African-style architectural elements throughout. 22 years later it would all be left to rot.