Bring a Zoo Program to Your Classroom!

We’ll bring the Zoo to you! Our offsite programs allow your students to learn about wildlife conservation through hands-on learning experiences. 

Enjoy an up-close encounter with live zoo animals in the comfort of your own classroom of facility. Presentations work great for classrooms, scout meetings, retirement communities, and libraries. Presentations are typically between 30 and 45 minutes in length. Animals are presented one at a time. Topics vary depending on age of audience (from preschool to adult). We can customize a program for you or you can choose from one of our core education topics.

Program fees are $100 plus an additional $1.00 per mile traveling fee (includes mileage and staffing cost) and $60 for each additional consecutive program on the same day. 


A Meet and Greet Station offers a more informal interaction with ambassador animals. Encounters offer a few minutes in which to engage with our instructors and/or Docents as guests learn about the animal and may even have an opportunity to touch an animal! This type of program works well if your event or facility has a large audience that may not be suited for sitting and listening to a long presentation. Typically, one or two animals are strolling at a time for approximately 45 minutes each. Meet and Greet programs are scheduled by the hour for up to 2 hours at a time. Meet and Greet Travel Zoos work well for retirement communities, community fairs/events, and larger corporate events.

Program fees are $100 plus an additional $1.00 per mile traveling fee (includes mileage and staffing cost) and $60 for each additional consecutive program on the same day. 



STEM Programs

STEM is involved in all aspects of saving wildlife and wild places. Our programs are developed using fun, hands-on and flexible teaching methods. Book your traveling STEM program today! 


Habitats come alive as students are immersed into the life of a penguin. Hands on activities bring to light what Magellanic penguins need in their habitat and how animals play an important role.

Exhibit Design

Building exhibits at the Zoo is no small task. Engineering skills are put to the test as groups use an animal’s needs and adaptions to design and create 3D models of a new exhibit.

Zoo Careers

Working with wild animals can be exciting, rewarding, and sometimes even a little stinky! During this program, your class will get a sneak peek into what working for a zoo is really like.


Enjoy live, interactive zoo programs from your classroom or home

Our Distance Learning Programs are led by a Zoo educator and include a mixture of live presentations, interactive tours of the Zoo, and the use of biological artifacts and ambassador animals to make learning fun and interesting. Programs are continuing to be developed so please check back or feel free to contact us if you don’t see something that relates to your curriculum.  

Program Fees: $75/program

Please reach out to us with any questions or concerns at 

Explore John Ball Zoo No Matter Where You Are

With our distance learning programs, we make learning accessible and engaging for your students. Explore John Ball Zoo on the go, in the classroom, or in the comfort of your home while learning about the importance of wildlife conservation.

Exhibit Design

3rd – 8th Grades

Dive into the role of an engineer and discover what it takes to create a zoo exhibit. We’ll tour three of John Ball Zoo’s exhibits up close to learn about animal, guest, and keeper needs. Then you’ll become an engineer and create an exhibit of your own! 

MI Science Standards: 3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-2.

Michigan Habitats

2nd – 3rd Grades

Young scientists learn about native Michigan wildlife and their habitats as we explore the animals that live in John Ball Zoo’s North American habitats. Learn what all animals need to survive while comparing and contrasting the animal’s natural habitat vs. their habitat at the zoo.

MI Science Standards: 2-LS4-1, 3-LS4-3.


2nd – 4th Grades

Explore habitats and classification as it relates to Magellanic Penguins! Students will enjoy this interactive lesson that will challenge them to build their own penguin nests and test it against the environmental elements to see if their nests can make the cut. 

MI Science Standards: 3-LS2-1, 3-LS4-2, 4-LS1-1, 4-LS1-2, 3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2.


make learning fun and interesting

No matter where you are, we want to make learning about animal conservation fun and interesting. Our Distance Learning programs are entertaining and interactive to help keep your students engaged and curious about the importance of preserving natural environments.


3rd - 5th Grades
Adaptations are unique traits and characteristics that help animals to survive in their environment. There are three types of animal adaptations: structural, physiological, and behavioral. Get an up-close look at the amazing physical and behavioral adaptations animals use to survive!
MI Science Standards: 3-LS2-1, 3-LS4-3, 3-LS3-1, 3-LS3-2, 3-LS4-2, 4-LS1-1, 4-LS1-2, 5-LS2-1.

Animal Enrichment

3rd - 8th Grades
Discover how our zookeepers keep our animals physically and mentally active in their zoo habitats. Enrichment is an awesome tool to encourage natural behaviors like running, swimming, climbing, and puzzle-solving, and we'll see how animals respond with pictures, videos, and a live animal demonstration. When we're done, you'll get to design your own enrichment for the animal of your choice!
MI Science Standards: 3-5-ETS1-1, 3-5-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-2.

Body Coverings

Pre-K - 1st Grades
All animals have different body coverings depending on the class that they belong to. Mammals are covered in fur or hair, birds are layered in feathers, and reptiles typically have dry scales. Experience the furry, feathery and scaly side of the animal world and learn why animals have these amazing coverings.
MI Science Standards: K-LS1-1, 1-LS1-1.


March is Reading Month

Making reading wildly fun! This unique Travel Zoo will bring a Zoo educator into your classroom to read a selected book and then share one of the Zoo’s ambassador animals with your students. This program is meant for individual classes so that students can experience an up-close encounter with an animal. Please indicate your top two choices of books when submitting your registration form. The Zoo will supply the book and one ambassador animal matched as closely to the animal(s) featured in the book as possible. Program lengths vary depending on book and age of students but are typically 25-45 minutes. We are able to facilitate this program either in person at your facility or virtually.

Lower Elementary


The Hoppameleon by Paul Geraghty
The Tiny Tadpole by Judith Nichols
Turtle Time by Sandol Stoddard
An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
Slithery Jake by Rose-Marie Provencher
Virtual Programs Only:
Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
A Little Bit of Winter by Paul Stewart



Great Snakes by Fay Robinson
Frogs by Wildlife Education
Turtles Take Their Time by Allan Fowler
Virtual Programs Only:
Night Creepers by Linda Stanek

Upper Elementary


Where Should Turtle Be? by Susan Ring
Cesar Takes a Break by Susan Collins Thoms
Verdi by Janell Cannon
The Hoppameleon by Paul Geraghty
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
An Interview With Harry Tarantula by Leigh Ann Tyson
Virtual Programs Only:
Tenrec’s Twigs by Bert Kitchen
Smudge by John A. Rowe
Henry Possum by Harold Berson


Starting Life: Frog by Claire Llewellyn
Spiders by Nic Bishop
Awesome Amphibians by Jeff Bauer
Why Do Snakes Hiss? by Joan Holub
Look Out for Turtles by Melvin Berger
Virtual Programs Only:
What is a Marsupial? by Bobbie Kalman

Bring Science Standards To Life With Our Virtual Zoo Lab!

Immerse your students in a weeklong program created to bring science standards to life while also weaving in creative writing, scientific observation, and more.

Base Fee: $700 for 2 classrooms.

Includes 5 synchronous programs, access to all asynchronous videos and supplemental materials, access to all 3 360º exhibit tours, and classroom kits. Additional classrooms may add on synchronous videos for a fee of $75/video for up to 2 classrooms each.

Please contact Rhiannon Mulligan, Education Program Manager, directly if interested in booking this program.     616-336-4301 x3001. 

Virtual Zoo Lab

Program Components

Our Virtual Zoo Lab allows your students to spend one week learning about animal adaptations, habitats, animal behavior, and conservation. This online learning experience also incorporates creative writing, scientific observation, and more.

Synchronous Programs

Teachers choose 5 Zoo Educator led programs that align best with their curriculum. Examples include; exhibit design, enrichment design, adaptations, and classification, along with many others. 

Asynchronous Programs

The Zoo has created 3 in-depth behind the scenes tours, guiding students through the Zoo Commissary, Vet Hospital, and behind the scenes Aquarium. Animal Observations are done daily to tie in scientific observation as well as creative writing. Observations are facilitated through 3 virtual 360º exhibit tours of the brown bear, meerkat, and red panda exhibits as well as additional Zoo Insider videos. 

Classroom Kits

If you are in the classroom with your students you have the option of utilizing additional materials for lessons including exhibit design kits, penguineering kits, biological artifacts (i.e. skulls, feathers, shells, etc), and materials to conduct a Great Migration learning game. *Delivery is included in price within a 30 mile radius of JBZ.  


What Teachers Have to Say

practical and engaging

"Because we attend Zoo lab and teach about adaptations, we can cut out an entire fourth-grade science unit. This week of learning is practical and engaging for students and definitely beats another BCAMSC unit!"

kids really liked learning this way

"There are SO many things about school that we have had to change this year and while Zoo Lab was also different, kids really liked learning in this way and were excited about it each day."
- Cortney Kittredge, Knapp Forest, FHPS

real-life examples

"In addition to helping us teach these important science standards, my students have a better understanding of why we learn about adaptations, food webs, ecosystems, and practice scientific observation because they now have real-life examples of people using these skills and knowledge for their profession"
- Matthew Evans, Grand Rapids Montessori, GRPS