ROYAL OAK – The Detroit Zoo does more than captivate crowds with its “awww”-inspiring animals and fun attractions – and now has the award to prove it.

The zoo has been named Michigan’s Finest Meeting Site by the Meeting Professionals International Michigan Chapter (MMPI), surpassing some of the finest hotels, resorts, conference centers and museums in Michigan. The award was presented June 12 at an MMPI awards ceremony in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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“The zoo has more than amazing animals and cool attractions. We take great pride in offering the community unique and exotic meeting venues which are perfect for all kinds of special events,” said Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan.

One of the Detroit Zoo’s most popular meeting venues, the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, is the site of 30 to 40 weddings each year. The facility can accommodate 140 for a seated dinner or 200 for a strolling event, and features a lush Butterfly Garden, a 90-seat theater, Science On a Sphere and the Detroit Zoological Society’s permanent art collection.

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The zoo’s Ford Education Center has four themed studios for meetings and social events, as well as an exhibit gallery and 126-seat 3-D/4-D theater. Events and meetings can also be held in the Arctic Ring of Life – North America’s largest polar bear exhibit – as well as the National Amphibian Conservation Center. In addition, the zoo has nine picnic sites and a new Events Pavilion that can hold up to 540 guests.

The Detroit Zoo is located at the intersection of 10 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, just off I-696, in Royal Oak. The zoo is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through Labor Day (with extended hours until 8 p.m. Wednesdays during July and August), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after Labor Day through October and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. November through March.

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Admission is $14 for adults 15 to 61, $12 for senior citizens 62 and older, and $9 for children 2 to 14 (children under 2 are free).