Zoo Animals

Detroit Zoo - Holden Reptile Conservation Center

Holden Reptile Conservation Center

From the Mexican lance-headed rattlesnake to the Chinese alligator to the McCord’s box turtle, the Holden Reptile Conservation Center is home to 240 reptiles representing 80 species, one-fifth of which are considered threatened or endangered in the wild.

Visitors can learn the difference between a caiman and a crocodile and see the unusual mata mata turtles with their large flat heads, Michigan’s only species of rattlesnake, the massasauga, and the lounge of venomous Gila monsters and beaded lizards in the HRCC. The largest venomous snake in the world resides in the same room as some of the world’s smallest tortoises, and the fastest species of lizard in the world can be seen next to a European legless lizard.

One of the most dramatic features of the HRCC is the home of the reticulated python. The centerpiece of the 20-by-8-by-8 foot space is a large stone head deity – created by Detroit Zoo reptile keeper David Blanchard – fashioned after temple idols found at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The enclosure also features a variety of plants and trees to offer the python the sanctuary found in their native habitat as well as a basking pool that provides underwater viewing for visitors.

The HRCC also features a king cobra that was acquired by the Zoo after assisting the Troy Police Department in an animal confiscation in 2001 when a private citizen violated the dangerous animal ordinance. Each year, the Detroit Zoological Society receives more than 50 requests from pet owners looking for a new home for their reptiles, and only on rare occasions is able to accept one. Owners looking for a home for their pets should contact the nearest humane society or animal rescue group.