VISIT

AMENITIES

Green And Blue Butterfly
ACCESSIBILITY

Accessibility at John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo is committed to ensuring that we are welcoming to all in our community. This is a pledge made by all of our employees. We strive to provide a safe, pedestrian-friendly environment where visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy getting close to nature.

For more information on accessibility within the Zoo or specific disability accommodations, check out our accessibility guide.

Questions? Contact us at 616-336-4300 or [email protected]

Sensory bags are available at our guest services desk near the admission booth. These include noise-canceling headphones, lap pads, fidget toys and a feeling card.

Headphone zones are located at the budgie aviary, the aquarium, the Natural Treasures building, and the chimpanzee indoor viewing area.

Quiet areas are located on the Waterfall Trail, Forest Realm Trail, chimpanzee viewing tunnel, and between the North American turtle and Canada lynx habitats. Our staff is sensory inclusive trained through KultureCity. Find us on the KultureCity App.


All guest with disabilities must have a valid form of admission to the Zoo. If a person with a disability requires a Personal Care Attendant (PCA) to experience the Zoo, a complimentary pass will be provided for the PCA and it may be obtained at any of the ticket windows at the entrance to the Zoo. This also applies for special programs and tours at John Ball Zoo.

Drinking fountains are located throughout the facility.  Please check the Zoo map. Complimentary cups of water may also be requested at any food stand or restaurant.

If at any time you need immediate assistance, please ask any Zoo employee.  If you have special needs, please visit our Guest Services office.

Wheelchairs are provided free of charge on a first-come, first-serve basis. All rentals require a $20 cash/card deposit to be held for the duration of the rental and given back upon return. Credit/debit card deposits may take 3-4 business days to return. All areas of the Zoo are accessible and staff can answer any questions guests may have. 

All the public restrooms in the Zoo are accessible. Gender-neutral/family restrooms are located at the entrance of the Zoo, and in the Forest Realm. Zoo employees are neither trained nor permitted to lift a guest or help them inside a restroom. Should it be required, guests needing this assistance should plan to visit the Zoo with someone who can physically help them. Electronic-assist doors are located at the entrances to the restrooms in Africa and Red’s Hobby Farm.

We welcome guests with disabilities who choose to bring their trained service animal into the Zoo. Emotional support animals, as well as companion or comfort pets, are not allowed entry into the Zoo. Service animals are defined as dogs and miniature horses. Service animals must remain on a leash or a harness, be under the control of their handler at all times. The leash cannot exceed 6 feet in length. If a service animal’s behavior is inappropriate, the handler may be asked to remove your service animal from the specific areas or the premises.

Service animals are restricted where there is direct contact with Zoo animals or limited in certain areas due to the sensitivity of the Zoo’s animals. Please visit a team member at the Guest Services office to check in your service animal.

All merchandise locations are accessible. Wheelchair-accessible dining tables are located in the area surrounding the Monkey Island Café and the Tiger Paws Snack Shop.

To avoid large crowds, visit John Ball Zoo during non-peak times. Typically, fall and winter tend to be less congested and summer and holidays bring the greatest crowds. Weekdays, and non-holidays, and early morning times are generally less crowded.

FOOD

Food & Beverage at John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo has various food & beverage opportunities located throughout the Zoo for your convenience. All venues accept cash, check, or credit cards. Remember all proceeds from your food purchases go to support your Zoo!

To assist our visitors with allergies, we do allow outside food to be brought into the zoo. We do ask that no glass containers are brought in for the safety of our animals and our guests.

You can reach the Food & Beverage Department at (616) 336-4326 or [email protected]

We appreciate your business!

FOOD

Here's Where to Eat When You Visit

All souvenir cup refill programs are good for one season! Be sure to buy your 2023 cup early in the season and utilize the refill program throughout 2023.

Monkey Island Café

Depot Snacks

Tiger Paws Pizza

Dippin Dots

Whistle Stop

Monkey Bar

Bird's Nest

Lion's Den

GIFT SHOP

Gifts of the Wild

The gift shop is open daily during normal Zoo hours. If you are a member, please have your membership card ready at all times. Show us your valid card to save 20% at any of our gift stands! Gift Cards are sold in the Gift Shop. Sold in any amount, they are good to use at any stand in the zoo. Call 616-336-4327 if you have any questions. 

*Curbside Pickup available – Call to pay by phone and have your item(s) brought out to your car. (Select times and days)

We can ship anything! Call 616-336-4327 to have any of our unique Zoo themed gifts shipped anywhere in the USA. Just pay shipping charges.

Eco-Friendly & Fair Trade

Help John Ball Zoo support the conservation efforts of our partners by purchasing from our wide selection of awesome Eco-Friendly items! We have marble sculptures hand carved by The Turtleman Foundation in Ecuador – whose proceeds go to help save the Sea Turtles – and a variety of Fair-Trade products handmade by the tribesmen of Kenya. Also returning this year are the ever-popular Fahlo bracelets, which each come with a tracking code so you can follow the animals you’re helping with your purchase!

Some other examples of Eco-Friendly items for 2022 include T-Shirts and Sweatshirts made from recycled bottles, river-safe wood stickers, a wide variety of reusable bags, and wire figurines made from reclaimed poaching snares. Stop in to see how you can use products that preserve and protect wildlife and wild places.

Plush

Our variety of plush is always growing and changing. Visit Gifts of the Wild to get a look at the new animals we’ve added this year: precious Pygmy Hippos, bright-crested Cockatoos, adorable Axolotls, wide-mouthed Whale Sharks, and so many more! Be sure to check out the classic mainstays as well: from our four-foot Snakes to the miniature pocketkins.

As always, conservation is important to us when selecting products to sell. We carry many different kinds of eco-friendly plush, such as our Ecokin and Econation plush, whose stuffing and fabrics are woven from recycled water bottles.

T-Shirts and Apparel

We have T-Shirts for everyone in the family, from adult all the way down to Infant. There are a huge variety of fashionable styles and colors to choose from, with graphics featuring Red Pandas, Tigers, Pygmy Hippos, and all your other favorite zoo residents! Don’t forget to check out our sustainably made clothing options as well! Support the zoo and commemorate your visit by taking home one of these wearable memories.

Need something more suited to the outdoors? Prepare for your visit with a cozy hooded sweatshirt, a comfy pair of socks, gloves, knit hats, sunglasses and ballcaps, we’ve got your all safari needs covered!

John Ball Zoo Souvenirs

Lanyards, Tote bags and Backpacks, oh my! Keep an eye out for special commemorative souvenirs imprinted with our name and logo. If you’re looking for a way to remember your trip, check out our selection of imprinted patches, pins, ornaments, shot glasses, mugs, key chains, and just about everything else you can think of.

Also coming this year: a brand-new set of postcards showcasing your favorite zoo animals! Make sure to also be on the lookout for other additions to our store featuring our NEW logo.

Outside Seasonal Gift Carts

Safari Supplies

Located at the front of the Zoo next to the restrooms.

Stop by Safari Supplies to rent a Tiger Print Safari Stroller ($12), a Wagon with a Canopy ($12), a Wheelchair (free, while supplies last), or an Amigo Electric Cart ($30). These are rented out on a first-come, first-serve basis. All rentals require a $20 cash/card deposit to be held for the duration of the rental and given back upon return. Credit/debit card deposits may take 3-4 business days to return. Safari Supplies also sells select gift items as well. Stop by to take a look!

John Ball Zoo Gem Company

Located by the Petting Zoo.

Pan for your very own gems in our brand new Sluice! Choose from 3 different Gem Bags and then pour them into your screen to reveal your treasures. We have the Pay Dirt bag for $8.99 that comes with 6 ounces of Gemstone Mix, the Emerald Strike Bag for $14.99 that has 6 ounces of Gemstones and 3 ounces of emeralds, and the Motherlode Bag for $29.99! This bag comes with a little bit of everything including; Gemstone Mix, Fossil Mix, Shark Teeth, Arrowheads, and a large piece of Amethyst Druzy. 

Face Painting

Located in the central part of the Zoo next to the Aquarium.

Become one of your favorite animals for your visit to the Zoo. Choose from either a cheek design or a full face design. All of the paintings are done freehand by our talented face painting employees. Choose between 9 different cheek designs and 9 different full face designs. Please remember, artists’ styles may vary.

Red Panda Pit Stop

Located on the deck by the Red Panda Habitat.

After you stop to say hi to Wyatt and Wasabi, take home a souvenir of your favorite Red Pandas! We have a selection of plush, toys, souvenirs, and other fun items.

If you see something you like here, make sure to pick it up, we may not sell the same things in the Gift Shop.

Shopping Cart

Great Lakes Rare Turtles

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Turtles are in trouble around the world and locally. The Great Lakes Rare Turtle Program addresses on threats that are existential and widespread for Blanding’s, Spotted, Wood, and Box Turtles. The John Ball Zoo is working wth partners to study head starting as a conservation tool, protecting nesting habitat for Wood Turtles from raccoons, and researching the distribution and status of Spotted Turtles in Southwest Michigan. The zoo partners with local community scientists to indentify road crossings that pose a threat to Blanding’s and other species of turtles.

Partners

Poweshiek Skipperling

Oarisma powesheik

Facts
Habitat

Grassland, Wetlands (inland)

Threat Range

Critically Endangered

Region

Extant (resident) - Canada (Manitoba); United States (Wisconsin, Michigan), Possibly Extinct - United States (South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa), Extinct - United States (Indiana, Illinois)

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Mitchell's Satyr

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The prairie fens of southern Michigan are a stronghold for the Endangered Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly. We are working with Michigan State University, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center to develp to propagate this rare butterfly. Offspring reared in the program may be used to supplement wild Mitchell’s Satyr populations.

Partners

Freshwater Mussels

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Freshwater Mussels are one of the most fastenating groups of animals. Unfortunately they are also one of the most imperiled groups on animals with more than 70% of North American species listed as Threatened or Endangered. Our own Grand River is home to an impressive 32 different species, 19 of which are listed. The John Ball Zoo is working with scientists at Grand Valley State University to evaluate Grand River Mussel populations. During the 2023 field season, the team documented over 1,000 individuals from 27 different species. This includes the Endangered Snuffbox Mussel.

Partners

Habitat Hero

Community Science
About

The Habitat Hero program is focused on creating better urban pollinator habitat by giving away native plants to west Michigan community members. By giving away native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, we are inviting community members to provide crucial nectar sources for pollinators as well as become more involved in pollinator conservation in their own yards and gardens.

Partners

Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

Community Science
About

American Kestrels are one of North America’s most abundant raptors, but their populations have been steadily declining since the mid 1960’s. This year we have begun participating in the American Kestrel Partnership, run by the Peregrine Fund, to monitor local kestrel nest boxes and help better understand Kestrel population trends and biology.

Partners

Grand River Sucker Monitoring

Community Science
About

Suckers are a very important, and often overlooked, group of migratory fish that inhabit the Grand River. Every spring they migrate upriver from Lake Michigan to spawn in tributaries of the Grand River. We are joining a project started by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to determine how changes in temperature and flow of the streams impact the spawning behavior of the suckers.

Partners

Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

Community Science
About

One of the major threats to turtle populations is mortality associated with roads and vehicles. We have a team of trained volunteers who survey predetermined road crossing sites and report the number of turtles they find at these locations. We plan to use the data to assist in conservation decision-making regarding roads and turtles in west Michigan.

Partners

Michigan Butterfly Network

Community Science
About

As part of our pollinator conservation work, we want to understand how native butterfly populations are changing over time. By training community members to use the Michigan Butterfly Network monitoring protocol, we are offering passionate people the opportunity to help contribute to our understanding of butterfly populations in west Michigan.

Partners

Bat Surveys

Community Science
About

West Michigan is home to several species of rare and threatened species of bats. This summer we will have a group of volunteers collecting bat occurrence data by driving predetermined routes and using special recorders and software to identify bat species. The data will be submitted to the North American Bat Monitoring Project as part of their ongoing analysis of bat abundance and occupancy across North America.

Partners

Massasauga Rattlesnake

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The Massasauga is Michigan’s only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are listed as Threatened. The John Ball Zoo helps to educate the public on the plight of the Massasauga and helps conservation biologists study them in the field. Currently, we are assisting Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Grand Valley State University, and Sarett Nature Center develop new technologies to monitor this secretive snake species.

Partners

City Nature Challenge

Community Science
About

The City Nature Challenge is one of the world’s largest annual community science events. Started by iNaturalist in 2016 as a friendly competition between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, this bioblitz has grown into a global phenomenon with over 500 cities participating. Taking place over the last weekend in April each year, the City Nature Challenge is all about getting outside and documenting the biodiversity in and around our communities while building and strengthening relationships with other people who are passionate about conserving local species. The West Michigan City Nature Challenge is Michigan’s only City Nature Challenge event, and encompasses Allegan, Barry, Kent and Ottawa Counties. We are excited to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and many other local organizations to engage our communities in four days of exploring our biodiverse outdoor spaces.

Partners

Michigan Area

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Freshwater Mussels

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Habitat Hero

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Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

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Grand River Sucker Monitoring

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Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

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Michigan Butterfly Network

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Bat Surveys

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Massasauga Rattlesnake

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City Nature Challenge

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Get Involved!