John Ball Zoo inspires our community to be actively engaged in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment

John Ball Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation committed to the advancement of public education on the need for wildlife conservation and preservation. On January 1, 2014 Kent County, owner of the Zoo, and the John Ball Zoo Society unified their respective operations at the Zoo to create John Ball Zoo. A long term management agreement is in effect that allows non-profit management with continued ownership by Kent County.

Our Vision: We envision a future of being a world-class zoo, a premier education facility, a renowned conservation center, and a wildly successful national visitor attraction.

Green And Blue Butterfly

John Ball Zoo IS The 4th most attended cultural facility in Michigan


Core Values

Our core values or institutional values, define our essential tenets and shape our mission. While our mission is the why in what we do, our core values are the how in our why as an organization. How we accomplish our mission matters.







Charity Navigator and Guidestar

Charity Navigator is the United States’ best “charity watchdog” and evaluates the financial health of more than 5,000 well-known charities. Each charity is given an overall rating, ranging from zero stars to the top rating of four stars.

  • John Ball Zoo, tax identification number 38-6076879, is an I.R.C. Section 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Your contribution is tax-deductible.
  • John Ball Zoo has the top Charity Navigator rating — 4 Stars/Exceptional
  • Only 10 percent of accredited zoos and aquariums reach this high standard.

Search for John Ball Zoo on GuideStar! GuideStar is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.


John Ball Zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1983

AZA accreditation assures excellent animal care and a dedication to conservation.

John Ball Zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1983.  Our accreditation is your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things.

Collectively, AZA zoos and aquariums represent the finest institutions and are visited by more than 130 million people each year. (That’s more people than attended professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey combined.) Accreditation is a detailed review and inspection process covering all aspects of an institution’s operation including the animal collection; veterinary care; physical facilities; safety; security; finance; staff; governing authority; support organization; involvement in education, conservation, and research; and adherence to AZA policies. Accreditation takes place every five years and is required for zoos and aquariums to be members of AZA.

With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats through your local AZA institution. AZA accredited zoos and aquariums like John Ball Zoo are helping to preserve thousands of animals regionally and around the world through wildlife conservation programs with an annual average of over a thousand conservation projects in 90 plus countries along with hundreds of books, book chapters, journal articles, conference proceedings papers, posters and theses or dissertations on wildlife management and biology.

John Ball Zoo participates in a number of nationwide AZA conservation and animal management programs, especially the Species Survival Plan Program (SSP) and Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program.  The SSP is one of our most powerful tools in combating extinction. AZA founded the program in 1981 as a cooperative population management and conservation program for selected threatened and endangered species at North American zoos and aquariums.

AZA works cooperatively with the U.S. Congress, federal and state government agencies, and international conservation organizations on legislative and regulatory matters pertaining to animal welfare, wildlife conservation field programs, conservation research and education initiatives and the public display of wildlife, including animal care and husbandry, transport and breeding.  AZA also participates in a number of international treaties and conventions impacting wildlife, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the International Whaling Commission, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.


2016 Millage Proposal

The John Ball Zoo and Grand Rapids Public Museum Millage successfully passed on November 8, 2016. Thank you to our community.

The 2016 millage established dedicated funding for the care of animals and artifacts,  provided enhanced educational programs and funds for the repair and renovation of exhibits.

Facts about the Millage

  • This proposal created a dedicated source of funding for these publicly owned institutions.
  • It is a 10-year, .44 millage that starts in 2016 and ends in 2025.
  • The proposal is an annual increase of $37.44 per year or $3.12 per month, for the average homeowner in Kent County.
  • All millage dollars will be split equally between both institutions and go through an independent financial audit every year.
Shopping Cart