John Ball Zoo, Grand Rapids
Categories: Zoos & Aquariums, Nature & Parks, Outdoor Activities
Touch the stingrays in the lagoon, stop by the Pelican Pier to see duck breeds from around the world, and visit the penguins in the aquarium at John Ball Zoo. The zoo showcases animals representing Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, and the United States like gorillas, tigers, lions, and emus. You'll discover a designated, interactive children's zoo that features camel rides, a ropes course, and a zipline for kids. Adults can try the Sky Trail--another ropes course. Board the funicular tram to the top of the zoo on your way in or out. Parking is free; check the website for seasonal closures before you visit. Add John Ball Zoo to your Grand Rapids travel itinerary, and discover new vacation ideas by using our Grand Rapids vacation generator.
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We love to take our children here. Perfect size to take a nice walk or eat a picnic lunch! It's a good zoo, a little on the small side but they are making it better and better each year!
I went with my teenage son, my adult daughter and 4 grandbabies. The day trip was a great time! Love the new additions that the zoo has been adding on over the years. We went on a very hot day, so the... read more »
For all the years that I've lived here including me growing up here, I've always went to the zoo either on fields trips or with family. I must say it's such a fun place to now take my own son and they... read more »
John Ball Zoo is a Grand Rapids mainstay. From the time I was young and living just down the street to now, I have always enjoyed the zoo. They have some great exhibits and their recent additions of things to do like the high ropes course, ziplines and net area by the Tiger exhibit allow more fun for the kids. The new Tiger exhibit is amazing and creatively designed for maximum showcasing of the tigers.. It seems like their animals are well taken care of, well groomed and well fed. This zoo also allows for easy avenues towards conservation of the species they keep there, and some they don't. I find the zoo to be well laid out and exhibits easy to find. If you're in Grand Rapids I would highly recommend coming here.
While the ticket price is low ($10/adult), the zoo reflects it. My main problem with the zoo was the animal care - exhibits were small and not always built with the species' natural habitat in mind. This sometimes allowed you to get very close too the animals and see them better, but this shouldn't be the main goal for a zoo. There was an african black-footed cat in an inside-enclosure that basically looked like a box. The rainbow trout we saw at the aquarium looked sick in their murky, dirty water. My husband and I spent our time here wondering if this zoo would pass any animal-care and exhibit-design tests. This zoo has a very small variety of species - I'd say at least half of the animals we saw were birds of some kind. The only big animals included grizzly bears, mountain lions, camels, and chimps. I guess if you live on the west side of the state, it can be worth the visit to get some zoo-time in, but you'd be better off taking the day to drive to the Detroit Zoo or Toledo Zoo.
One of the best zoo experiences I've had. We didn't expect to see the massive enclosures for the animals, and were very impressed with the use of the natural terrain for the exhibits. They really went out of their way to make this zoo friendly to the animals and the visitors. We'll be driving the 3 hours to visit this Zoo multiple times each season! Be sure to take your walking shoes though, this zoo is sprawling and really requires a lot of walking. Plan on spending at leas 3-4 hours here to see the whole zoo, and more if you like to relax at any of the exhibits or stop for a lunch. It may be taxing for anyone with a cane or assisted walking device like a walker or crutches. There are a lot of stairs and are really not avoidable if you want to see most of the zoo.
For the 10 dollar adult ticket price, this was a great way to spend the day. My boyfriend and I spent our afternoon here on a Sunday and we were very impressed. It was amazing to get close to the animals, the Lemurs have the ability to walk over the visitor path and the new walkway through the kangaroo enclosure is awesome. As another poster said the map and signs are in need of work, but I don't think that really effect the experience too much. If there is any need for new signage it is for visitor to stop banging on the glass of exhibits. I saw adults tap on the glass of the reptile exhibits, despite the fact that when you walk into the building there is a large sign that says "Quiet Please". These adults obviously learned nothing from Harry Potter. As it got later in the day and families with little children started to go home, and it was like having the zoo to ourselves. The rude families did not ruin the Zoo for us, we also went on a Holiday weekend so I am sure that was a factor in it. I would suggest the John Ball Zoo to anyone coming to Grand Rapids for the day.
Wow! This is a smaller zoo, but absolutely phenomenal. The animals generally have larger habitats that look more natural but you feel like you're right near the animals for the most part (instead of staring at an enclosure wondering if they're there). The petting zoo has chickens just roaming around, and there is an area where I GOT TO PET A WALLABY, HECK YESSS. Beautiful place. Nice coffee stand outside the gates too. Wear comfy shoes, there is a lot of uppy-downy action as you walk around.
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