November through April: 10 a.m. til 4 p.m.
April through November: 10 a.m. til 5 p.m.
Public feeding opportunities are available at the Deer Encounter. Guest can feed the fallow deer Wednesday through Sunday, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Belle Isle has had a long and storied history of having European Fallow Deer live on the island. The first deer arrived as a gift from the King of France in 1895. They were placed in the deer park, which was a part of the original Belle Isle Zoo. In 1930, the deer were released to freely roam the island. In 2002, due to illness and overpopulation, all of the fallow deer on the island were corralled together. The Belle Isle Nature Zoo currently houses 15 of the deer from the original population that was on Belle Isle.
1. How much does it cost? Do I have to buy tickets? The Deer Encounter does not cost anything. To feed the deer we ask guests to arrive at the deer barn at feeding time.
2. How many pieces of food do we get? Zookeepers and staff veterinarians carefully monitor all of the animals’ diets to ensure their health. For this reason each guest is allow 1 cracker.
3. Do the deer bite? They sometimes lick but do not bite.
4. Can I get germs or get sick? All animals have germs in their mouths. Deer have no special germs of concern. We ask that all guests wash their hands after feeding as a measure of good hygiene.
5. Can I take pictures? Absolutely, however,we ask that you do not use a flash.
6. Can I bring my own food to give the deer? Only the special food item issued by the staff members can be given to the deer.
7. Can I touch/pet the deer? These are not pets and we want to respect them. Deer do not enjoy being touched or petted as much as they enjoy the feeding and it may startle them.