Detroit Zoo building $10 million nature center in Macomb County

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The Detroit Zoo is expanding its campus outside of Oakland County. The Zoo plans to begin building a nature center in Macomb County later this year, officials announced Tuesday. 

The Great Lakes Nature Center will be a $10 million, 20,000 square foot facility showcasing the wildlife of the Great Lakes region. 

Zoo officials haven't decided a location yet, but say they're looking at a "number of waterfront locations." Macomb County sits on the edge of Lake St. Clair, and the Clinton River also runs for miles throughout the county. 

"This is about Great Lakes, so, it does need to be on water," Detroit Zoo CEO Ron Kagan said during the announcement.

He said they expect to know their location in a couple months, and hope to also be able to show us what the center will look like then, too. 

In the meantime, we do know the center will have green technology, a butterfly garden and other exhibits and habitats for live animals. 

It will be home to a number of Great Lakes fish including lake sturgeon and paddlefish, which are now extinct in the Great Lakes. 

Habitats for native amphibians, reptiles, turtles, small mammals, shorebirds and birds of prey are also planned. Many of those birds of prey will have been rescued and non-releasable, the Zoo said, such as sandhill cranes. 

Kagan says they hope to begin building within the year, and that construction should take about another year. 

The center would employ a small number of people, and also be equipped with volunteers. 

Zoo officials are looking at all options for funding the $10 million project, but expect most of the money will be donated. 

The Great Lakes Nature Center will be operated by the Detroit Zoological Society, which also operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center.