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VISIT

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting John Ball Zoo

For the safety of animals and other Zoo guests, bicycles, skateboards, roller-blades, and skates are not allowed inside the Zoo. Glass, balloons and confetti are also restricted. Strollers, electric carts and wagons are prohibited in certain areas of the Zoo.

John Ball Zoo is a tobacco-free Zoo.  The Zoo does not permit smoking, chewing or any other use of tobacco products including e-cigarettes on Zoo property.

For the safety of your animal as well as the Zoo residents, pets are not permitted in the Zoo. We welcome trained service animals (such as dogs and miniature horses) needed for a physical disability.

For additional details, please inquire at the admissions booth. Visit the Hours/Admission tab on the website for more information.

 

John Ball Zoo strives to keep our admission costs low in order for families to visit multiple times. At this time there are no discounts for our admission. However, we do offer discounts for:
– College students with a valid student identification
– Seniors
– United States Military Personnel and their spouse with a valid military identification present

Group discounts are offered to groups of 25 or more with advanced reservations. Please refer to the Hours/ Admission tab of our website and view the information under rates.

For health and safety reasons, and to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere, the John Ball Zoo maintains the following dress code:

– Shirts and shoes must be worn at all times.
– Provocative or revealing clothing and clothing that is generally considered offensive are prohibited.
– Disguises, costumes, or articles of clothing that conceals a person’s identity are prohibited.
– The John Ball Zoo reserves the right to deny or revoke admission to anyone who fails to comply with this dress code at the sole discretion of zoo management. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a staff member or visit the Guest Services Building. This policy will not be implemented in such a way as to discriminate against a guest based upon any known protected characteristic.

Yes, visitors may bring food into the Zoo.

Glass containers and alcohol are NOT allowed. There are no grills inside the Zoo. Remember that all of the Zoo’s animals are wild and are on special diets. Help keep the animals healthy by keeping snacks for yourself. There are many naturally
roaming animals such as geese, ducks, and squirrels. Chasing and feeding these animals encourages unwanted behavior, so please allow them to pass uninterrupted.

There are supervised paid opportunities to feed the budgies.

Additional paid opportunities include zip line, ropes course, camel rides, budgie feed stick (budgie exhibit entry is free), concession items, and gift shop purchases. Please visit the experiences tab on our website for more experience requirement information. Ride tickets are non-refundable and must be used on the date of purchase.

Animals tend to be most active and visitor attendance tends to be lowest early in the morning and just prior to closing.  School group visits are popular each weekday morning March through May as well as during September. This is a great time to visit if you enjoy the excitement and energy of youngsters exploring their Zoo.

We suggest you allow yourself two to three hours to see most of the Zoo. Even better, visit often and explore one part of the Zoo in depth during each visit.

There may be times when certain animals will be off display or an exhibit may be closed. Please inquire with the admission staff if you have a question about the availability of a specific animal at the beginning of your visit.

Wheelchairs are available free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis. A limited number of electric scooters are available for rent. Strollers and wagons are available to rent. Please be aware that John Ball Zoo is designed to take advantage of our
naturally hilly terrain. There are inclines in the Zoo. Strollers, electric carts, and wagons are prohibited in certain areas of the Zoo. For additional details, please inquire at the admissions booth. Visit the Hours/Admission tab on the website for more information.

No, we currently do not have lockers or any storage for public use. Guests are responsible for the safety of personal belongings brought into the Zoo.

Keep an eye out for volunteers, who are dressed in khaki pants and red shirts. They often have “touch stations” and other things to look at and are always happy to share interesting information about the animals. Consider becoming a volunteer, and share your own interest with others!

Yes, programs are provided for groups with advanced reservations. Visit the Education page for more information.

Please feel free to e-mail or call us. We care about your visit being as comfortable, educational, and enjoyable as possible. You can find a list of email addresses and phone numbers on our directory page.

Budgie
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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!