Senate panel hears testimony from star of My Life is a Zoo

LANSING — Legislation designed to benefit Michigan zoos was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday, said Sens. Joe Hune and Tom Casperson.

Under Senate Bill 210, sponsored by Hune, facilities accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) would be exempt from the handling and care standards of the Large Carnivore Act (Public Act 274 of 2000).

“Zoos accredited by the ZAA should be exempt from the same state rules as those accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums,” said Hune, R-Hamburg Township, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This bill will benefit zoos that are dedicated to animal conservation and provide our children with an opportunity to see wild animals in a safe and educational setting. I encourage my colleagues to approve this measure.”

Carrie Cramer, of the DeYoung Family Zoo in Wallace, Mich. and star of the Nat Geo Wild show My Life is a Zoo, traveled to the state Capitol to testify before the Senate panel in support of the measure.

“Enacting this bill will give parks more choice in what association they want to join,” Cramer said. “The ZAA is a wonderful organization that will help smaller, private parks move forward in their professional development, which will result in a positive impact for animal husbandry practice and care in Michigan.”

According to the Legislative Services Bureau, a nonpartisan legislative information and service agency, the ZAA was established in 2005 to “promote responsible conservation, preservation and propagation of animals in both private and public domains.” Since the association was formed after 2000, it was not included as one of the organizations whose accreditation would allow for an exemption from state law.

“The DeYoung Family Zoo is a fabulous place to visit,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “Thanks to all of Carrie and Bud’s hard work, visitors to the zoo can see a variety of wild animals in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. The DeYoung Family Zoo and other such facilities should have freedom to choose what organization they want to be accredited through.”

According to ZAA’s website, facilities must meet several requirements to become accredited: “Facilities are graded in many categories, including the following: physical facility, husbandry and animal care practices, record keeping and health care records, knowledge of animal personnel, animal diet and nutrition, facility security, veterinary care, licensing and permits, and safety plans.”

Under current law, zoos with large carnivore animals such as mountain lions, tigers, leopards, bears and wolves, must be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The DeYoung Family Zoo, run by Cramer and Bud DeYoung, is home to more than 400 animals, including exotic animals like tigers and a variety of monkeys, as well as other animals like cows, llamas and horses. The park sees about 70,000 visitors a year.

SB 210 will now go before the full Senate for further consideration.


Editor’s note: The above photograph of Sen. Casperson, Carrie Cramer and Sen. Hune is available by clicking on the image or by visiting Hune’s photowire at: