It’s Official: Science Says Viewing Animals at the Detroit Zoo Reduces Stress

Detroit Zoological Society shares results of wellness study

Playful otters. Graceful giraffes. Fluttering butterflies. For those who feel a sense of calm and joy at the very thought of these images, there’s good news. Viewing these and other animals at the Detroit Zoo has been shown to reduce stress.


The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS), in partnership with researchers at Michigan State University (MSU), conducted a study proving that people exhibit reduced levels of stress upon viewing animals living at the Detroit Zoo.

“Biophilia refers to the natural tendency of humans to focus on and to affiliate with nature and animals,” said Ron Kagan, DZS executive director and CEO. “These findings confirm what we at the DZS have always known – the Detroit Zoo is a sanctuary not only for animals but for people as well, a place to relax and recalibrate.”

Participants in the study were hooked up to electrodes in a laboratory setting, given a verbal math test and asked to deliver an off-the-cuff speech. They were then separated into three groups and shown video of either a plain white screen, Detroit traffic or animals living at the Detroit Zoo. MSU scientists measured stress indicators such as heart rate, skin conductance and facial reactions. Results showed that stress levels were lowest among the subjects who viewed the animals.

Participants were then introduced to otters, giraffes and butterflies at the Detroit Zoo. Pulses slowed. Heart rates decreased. Moods lifted. They reported feeling less stressed and anxious compared to when they started the lab procedure.

The takeaway? “If you’re feeling tense, frazzled, keyed up or even blue, a good place to go to feel better is the Detroit Zoo,” Kagan said.

To learn more, visit https://www.dzoo.org/wellness.

The Detroit Zoological Society – a renowned leader in humane education, wildlife conservation, animal welfare and environmental sustainability – operates the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center.  With an annual regional economic impact of more than $167 million, the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak is one of Michigan’s largest paid family attractions, hosting more than 1.3 million visitors annually.  Its 125 acres of award-winning naturalistic habitats are home to 2,400 animals representing 235 species.  The Belle Isle Nature Center sits on a 5-acre site surrounded by undisturbed forested wetlands on Belle Isle State Park in Detroit.  It provides year-round educational, recreational and environmental conservation opportunities for the community.  For hours, prices, directions and other information, call (248) 541-5717 or visit detroitzoo.org.

Disclaimer: Blue Water Healthy Living is an online magazine located in Port Huron, Michigan. Our purpose is to promote healthy living by showcasing the Blue Water Area, its people, issues and surroundings. This online magazine is devoted to providing healthy living related stories, local happenings, and commentary. Often inspiring and uplifting, our stories come from our heart and soul to promote the enjoyment of a more fulfilling Blue Water Area lifestyle. The material on this web site is provided for informational and amusement purposes only and is not to be confused with any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions and values of Blue Water Healthy Living.

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