Potter Park Zoo invites students to 'Tailgate With the Animals' this Sunday
With the big game between Michigan State and the University of Michigan fast approaching, fans everywhere are making their own predictions for how the football battle will turn out. But in Lansing, an unusual group of football followers ― the animals of the Potter Park Zoo ― are preparing to choose their predicted winner for the big game.
On Sunday, October 1, the animals at Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo will take part in the Zoo’s annual “Tailgate With the Animals” event, during which the furred and feathered denizens of the park will pick the team they want to win in the October 7 football matchup.
The Zoo, located at 1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in Lansing, will have free admission on game day for any college student with a valid student ID, as well as any children of college students.
The Zoo’s Sunday hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the “Tailgate With the Animals” event will take place from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p..m.
Amy Morris is the Executive Director of the Potter Park Zoological Society, the non-profit group that supports the zoo. She explained how the zoo uses its animal enrichment program to let the animals choose the winning team.
“Animal enrichment is when we provide different unique experiences for our animals,” Morris said. “Oftentimes it’s something like a paper bag with food in it, or a paper towel roll with some special treat, depending on the animal, some special treat that’s specific to the animal. We provide enrichment daily anyway, so this is just something special for us that we can highlight the enrichment opportunities the animals are getting so that our guests can watch them. It’s usually quite funny to watch the animals interact with the enrichment.”
“The animals will have two different things that they can pick from,” Morris said. “One will be maize and blue, and the other will be green and white. It’s just kind of a fun little way to celebrate the upcoming football season.”
Morris also encourages guests to wear their college-themed clothing to show support for their schools, no matter which college they went to ― although she expects many Spartans to attend.
The event has taken place for many years, but this year the Zoo wanted to change things up by inviting college students for free.
“We work really closely with Michigan State in a lot of other ways,” Morris said. “There was an interest on the part of our board to collaborate more closely with Michigan State and draw more students to the zoo.”
While the Zoo is about three miles from MSU’s campus, Morris wanted to stress that it doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible. In fact, the Lansing River Trail goes all the way from Brody Neighborhood to the Zoo.
“From campus to the zoo is about three miles, and we figure it’s about a 15-minute bike ride... it's probably a 45-minute walk,” she says.
Despite the Zoo’s proximity to campus, Morris remains impartial when it comes to which team the animals should pick.
“I am a Spartan and there are Spartans at the zoo, but we love all the colleges in Michigan so I can’t say I want them to pick the Spartans," Morris said.
“But I have to say, I’m a Spartan.”
Further information on the event and on the Potter Park Zoo can be found on their website.