Detroit Zoological Society

Celebrating and Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

aka DZS   |   Royal Oak, MI   |


The Mission of the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) is to: Demonstrate extraordinary leadership in conservation, animal welfare, education and environmental sustainability. Inspire our diverse community with engaging, meaningful, memorable experiences and equitable opportunities that encourage appreciation and stewardship of nature. Celebrate and value biodiversity and human diversity, while ensuring that our audience, staff and volunteers reflect the multicultural fabric that is the strength of our community. Provide innovative facilities and programs that contribute to the region’s economic vitality. Demonstrate organizational excellence consistent with a commitment to outstanding service, as well as progressive and responsible resource management.

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Hayley W. Murphy

Main address

8450 W 10 Mile Road

Royal Oak, MI 48067 USA

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NTEE code info

Animal Protection and Welfare (includes Humane Societies and SPCAs) (D20)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (C01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Animal Care

The Detroit Zoological Society continues its mission of celebrating and saving wildlife by demonstrating leadership in animal care, wildlife conservation and animal welfare. The Detroit Zoo is an active participant in animal conservation through breeding programs for threatened and endangered species as well as local field programs the Zoo leads and international field programs the Zoo supports. These programs are the work of dedicated Detroit Zoo staff working with partners from state and federal governments, universities, conservation organizations and other accredited zoos. The Detroit Zoological Society's Center for Zoo Animal Welfare is a resource center for captive animal welfare knowledge, research and best practices; a convener and forum for exotic animal welfare science, practice and policy discussions; and a center conducting research and training, and recognizing advances in exotic animal welfare.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

EDUCATION: The Detroit Zoological Society continues to provide a broad audience with outstanding and unique educational opportunities that lead to the appreciation and stewardship of nature. Humane education, environmental literacy, responsible resource management, conservation, science literacy and stewardship are fundamental components of education programming. Programs utilize a variety of instructional strategies - including inquiry-based learning, storytelling, interactive technology and citizen science - to match the various learning styles of the community. Regional school district partnerships enhance humane education and life science experiences in the classroom through onsite programs, teacher training and curriculum support.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Detroit Zoological Society continues to demonstrate organizational excellence consistent with a commitment to outstanding service, progressive resource management and environment leadership. The Detroit Zoological Society maintains grounds of 125 acres and 78 different buildings where staff members and volunteers are committed to lessening their environmental impact on the Earth. The Detroit Zoological Society has developed a unique, green roadmap called the Greenprint. This comprehensive strategic plan guides our operations and is the plan by which we refine and improve our facilities and daily practices, develop new policies and programs and improve green literacy in our community.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

GUEST ENGAGEMENT: The Detroit Zoological Society continues to inspire the community with engaging, meaningful and memorable experiences. In 2015 the Detroit Zoo welcomed more than 1.4 million visitors. In addition to animal experiences, other attractions at the Zoo include the 4-D Theater, the Simulator Ride, Giraffe Encounter, Tauber Family Railroad, Science On a Sphere, and the Carousel. Visitors can also participate in Zoo-sponsored events including Greenfest, Sunset at the Zoo, Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo, Run Wild and Zoo Boo.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work


2015 Best-Managed Nonprofit 2015

Crain's Detroit Business

Affiliations & memberships

American Association of Museums - Member 2006

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.


The initiatives and actions in the 2013 operating plan are areas of special staff focus for 2013. They reinforce and complement ongoing mission-related core activities and functions (e.g., animal care and welfare, guest services, facilities maintenance, fundraising, conservation and education programs). As always, we strive every year to improve and strengthen all of our fundamental operations – it is not the intent of this document to capture ongoing fundamentals – only what's special for the coming year. All work supports the Detroit Zoological Society's purpose and mission, directly connects to the 2013 budget and furthers the DZS strategic plan, including the Physical Master Plan. Initiatives are grouped primarily by mission elements that they support. These plans cascade to all management team members for implementation. Though detailed and extensive, this is not an exhaustive listing of all efforts and the order is not intended to designate priority. Unforeseen opportunities and/or challenges may arise leading to some changes.

Detroit Zoological Society
• Non-profit organization that operates Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Zoo
• 205 full- and part-time employees
• 53,000 member households
• 1,156 volunteers
• $29.8 million budget
• Statement of Purpose: “Celebrating & Saving Wildlife"
Detroit Zoo
• One of the largest paid family attractions in Michigan
• More than 1.2 million visitors annually
• 125 acres with many naturalistic and immersive animal habitats
• Major exhibits include Arctic Ring of Life, Australian Outback Adventure, Butterfly Garden, Great Apes of Harambee, National Amphibian Conservation Center, Penguinarium
• Home to more than 4,500 animals of 269 species
• Economic impact of $60-80 million
• Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums
• Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day (until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in July and August), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. day after Labor Day through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day)
• Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children ages 2 to 14; children under 2 are free
Belle Isle Nature Zoo
• Situated on approximately 10 acres of Michigan's forested wetland
• Focuses on Michigan wildlife, flora and fauna
• Offers family nature programs and education programs for school and community groups
• Open Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March (closed Monday and Tuesday as well as on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day); admission is free

Progress in 2012:
Record One Day Attendance of 19,234
Attendance over one million for the 7th consecutive year (1,272,574)
Membership at 51,000 households (record peak at 59,951)
Facebook - #4 in hte country - 142,000 fans
Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo - over 400 pet adoptions
Volunteers contributed 102,489 hours
Clean USDA inspection report

GREENPRINT PROGRESS - Completed 25% of $2.0 million Energy Efficiency Improvement Plan Project, FEC LEED certification underway, DTE assisted in the assembly of over 200 Waste/Recycling Bins

Implemented ZooMORE ticket packages. Increased Rides and Attractions by 26%
Wildlike Photographer of the Year
Lezotte/Kalter Wildlife Rescue Fund Established

EDUCATION - Expanded outreach (all 3rd graders) to Utica Schools, Sucessful Summer Safari Theater Camp, Began outreach partnership with Beaumount Hospital.
HUMANE EDUCATION - Hosting 2013 Association of Professional Humane Educators - National Humane Education Conference, Alternative Dissection in the H.E. Lab, 246 educators went through the H.E. for professional development, New Mural in the H.E. lab, Partnership with Mosaic Youth Theater, Sowing seeds workshop, ACCESS youth summer camp.
AWARDS/ACHIEVMENTS - Noyce Leadership program, "Michigan's Finest Meeting Site", IAAPA Brass Ring Award for Vitamin Z marketing campaign, AZA award for the conservation of Grevy Zebras, AZA award for the conservation of the Puerto Rican crested toad.
CONSERVATION PROGRESS - Conservation Master Plan Workshop, First rearing of Common Terns on Belle Isle in more than 50 years, Blanding Turtles "head-starting" returning 12 hatchlings back to their native habitat, Planted forty-two large trees.
COMMUNITY SERVICE - Over 14,000 lbs of cloths donated to the Salvation Army, American Red Cross Blood Drives - DZS ticket incentive with WCSX radio resulted in record of 1,300 units of blood, Gleaner's Community Food Bank - 9,000 lbs of food collected, Holiday gift donations to children in need - 3 carloads of items delivered to Big Family of Michigan for distribution to children in Michigan's foster care, Electronic Waste Recycling - 103,000 lbs collected, Free tickets distributed to over 1,500 non-profits, Day at the Zoo - over 2,000 underserved youth at the Zoo,
Education Outreach programs to over 8,500 students unable to access the Zoo, Just ZOO It - All DZS staff participated in four days of community service at the Friends of the Rouge, Habitat for Humanitty, Ideal Group, and Belle Isle Nature Center.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve


Detroit Zoological Society

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Detroit Zoological Society

Board of directors
as of 10/14/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Anthony Earley

Matthew S Ahearn

St. Clair Shores City Council

Larry Alexander

Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau

N. Charles Anderson

Detroit Urban League

Alisha Bell

Wayne County

Madeleine H Berman

Civic Leader

Thomas C. Buhl

Legacy Wealth Managemetn

Shery L Cotton

Meridian Health Plan of Michigan, Inc.

Mary Kay Crain

Crain Communications

Matthew P Cullen

Rock Ventures, LLC

David E. Duprey

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Matthew B. Elliott

Bank of America

Charles Ellis

Greater Grace Temple

John Erb

Edgemere Enterprises

Burton D. Farbman

The Farbman Group

Marjorie M. Furman (Fisher)

Dept. of Near Eastern Studies UofM

Cynthia Ford

Civic Leader

Linda Gillum

Oakland University

Allan D. Gilmour

Ford Motor Company

Ruth R Glancy

Civic Leader

Jeff Hauswirth

J Hauswirth Group

Marina A. Houghton

Wolinski & Company, C.P.A., P.C.

Hassan Jaber


Hiram Jackson

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George G. Johnson

George Johnson & Company

Alan Kalter

Retired Executive

Tom Lewand

Detroit Lions, Inc./ Ford Field

Denise J Lewis

Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn

Victor Martin

Radisson Hotel Bloomfield Hills

Richard B Platt

Specialty Auto Parts, U.S.A., Inc.

Stephen R Polk

R.L. Polk & Co.

Marian M Roberge

The Roberge Group

James Rosenthal

National Lumber Company

Rick Ruffner

Avanti Press, Inc.

Lloyd A Semple

University of Detroit Mercy Law School

Shirley R. Stancato

New Detroit, Inc.

John G. Sznewajs

Masco Corporation

Joel D. Tauber

Tauber Enterprises

Sean Werdlow

Siebert Branford Shank & Co., LLC

Jeffrey K Willemain


William M. Wolfson

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Marvin Daitch

Daitch Realty Company

Jennifer Fischer

Civic Leader

Shawn Patterson

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Paul Huxley

Strategic Staffing Solutions

Daniel Little

University of Michigan

Virinder Moudgil

Lawrence Technological University

Julie A Nicholson

52-3 District Court

Bob Riney

Henery Ford Health System

Anmar Sarafa

Steward Capital Management

Lawrence Scott

O'Reilly Rancilio, P.C.

Grace Shore

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Andre Spivey

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James E Tate

City of Detroit

Beth Daly

University of Windsor

Karen Dumas

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Doreen Hermelin

Civic Leader

Kelle Ilitch

Civic Leader

Alan Kaufman

Kaufman Financial Group

Bonnie Larson

Civic Leader

Dawn Lee-Cotton

Wayne County

Terry Harvill

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Isaiah McKinnon

City of Detroit

Stuart Robbins

Retired Executive

Melissa Roy

Advancing Macomb

Gail Warden

Henry Ford Health System

William Conway

Henry Ford Health System

Lisa Lis

Civic Leader

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/2/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 12/02/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.