May 21, 2018
Old school: U-M in History
(Photo courtesy of the Ann Arbor District Library)
In 1929, an anonymous benefactor paid for the construction of a small zoo behind the Alexander G. Ruthven Museums Building on Washtenaw Avenue. The donor in part hoped the zoo would bring comfort to the children in University Hospital across the street. The benefactor provided the initial collection of animals: a badger, a red fox, six raccoons, two porcupines, four skunks, and two black bears. Students and families stopped by to watch the animals, while the zoo served as a teaching tool for the museums and researchers. Although the zoo was still popular by the early 1960s, a $1 million expansion to the Ruthven Museums Building included the zoo's grounds. Members of the community pushed for the animal center to be saved or moved, but the animals were relocated to other vetted zoos and the facility was razed in September 1962.
— Adapted from "History Lessons: A Zoo at the U? Who Knew?" by Gregory Lucas-Myers, Michigan Alumnus