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  1. What you need to know to visit the area.

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    John Ball Zoo

    John Ball Zoo is open and has implemented many new health and safety protocols. Please visit their website for guidelines details.

    Important to know before you go:

    How to Experience the John Ball Zoo:

    Is the John Ball Zoo open?

    No, the John Ball Zoo has closed for the winter season and will reopen in the spring.

    Do I need to purchase tickets in advance?

    John Ball Zoo encourages all guests to reserve admission tickets prior to arrival. Cashless transaction is highly encouraged if you purchase tickets on site. 

    Click here to reserve tickets.

    Are there timed tickets?

    Yes – all guests must reserve a timed-entry ticket to secure their visit time. You may also secure tickets on site at the Zoo, but you might have to wait to enter the main area depending on current visitor capacity.

    Do I have to come at a specific time?

    Yes, admission to the zoo will only be valid for the 30-minute time block you have selected online. It is important that you arrive in the 30 minutes following the arrival time on your ticket to ensure a timely entry.


    What are the current hours of operation?

    The Zoo is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. It closes for the season after Sunday, November 22.

    What can I expect when I arrive?

    Informational signs and staff members will greet and direct you where to go. When there is a wait for entry, you will be directed to a waiting area for the time slot indicated on your ticket(s). These lines ensure that 6’ distance is maintained between your party and the next. When entering JBZ, please make sure that you have your ticket(s) in-hand either via paper ticket or mobile device and staff will scan them. Members will also need to present their member's card for verification.

    Will they take my temperature?


    Do we have to wear masks?

    Yes, anyone who is five years of age or older must wear a mask in all indoor public spaces at the Zoo, and outdoors if you cannot maintain six feet distance from other guests. Please bring a mask with you to the Zoo if you are able to medically tolerate wearing one.

    How many people area allowed to enter?

    Indoor attractions are limited to 50% of normal visitor capacity by order of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Zoo limits capacity through its timed ticketing system to ensure proper distancing.

    Are there sanitation areas?

    The Zoo has installed additional handwashing stations throughout the grounds and has implemented more frequent and detailed sanitation procedures.

    Is there an on-site restaurant open?

    Several snack venues are open. Cashless transactions are encouraged. Click here to browse restaurants close to the Museum’s west-side site.

    About the Zoo

    This classic urban zoo is located two miles west of downtown Grand Rapids, just off the 1-96 expressway.


    John Ball Zoo is home to more than 1,800 animals. Habitats include:

    • Mokomboso Valley Chimpanzee Exhibit
    • North America animals including Grizzly bears, puma and bobcats
    • Treasures of the Tropics - reptiles, amphibians & small primates
    • Living Shores Aquarium & Penguinarium
    • Red's Hobby Farm petting coral
    • Lions of Lake Manyara
    • Wild Way Trail - Lemurs & howler monkeys
    • Tigers of the Realm
    • And much more


    The zoo also features a number of kid-friendly rides and activities:

    • Funicular to the Forest Realm - a tram ride up to the second highest ridge in Grand Rapids
    • Zipline - a four-story, 300-foot "fly" over the zoo (seasonal)
    • Sky Trail Ropes Course - four stories tall with two climbing levels (seasonal)
    • Camel Rides (seasonal)
    • Feedable parakeet aviary (seasonal)

    A spacious park at the entrance of the zoo is perfect for picnicking.


    • Getting Around the Venue: The sidewalks surrounding the property are wide and level. The intersections along Valley Avenue do have curb ramps, but lack rumble strips and crosswalk markings. The intersection along Butterworth St. SW also has a curb ramp, but lacks rumble strips.

      The west parking lot has designated accessible parking near the main entrance to the park. Not all of the designated accessible parking spaces have an adjacent access aisle.

      The east parking lot has designated accessible parking. These spaces do not have an adjacent access aisle.

      The south parking lot is on grass, and has no designated accessible parking spaces.

      There are few sidewalks that lead from the perimeter of the property to the main gate. The driveways may be used, though care should be taken to be aware of vehicular traffic. The sidewalks that lead to the interior of the park are located at the John Ball Park Drive entrance, and the West entrance along Fulton Street.

      The tennis courts near the south parking lot entrance are surrounded by grass and do not have a paved accessible route.

      The Pavilion 3 has a very pronounced ridge that runs the entire length of the entrance. This ridge is very steep. The pavilion contains public restrooms. The restrooms have small stalls. The pavilion has many picnic table options available. The tables are closely spaced and may restrict access to the restrooms. There is a curb with a single curb ramp at the rear of the pavilion that leads to the pond overlook. Access to this curb ramp may be restricted by the many picnic tables in the pavilion.

      The John Ball Zoo — Main Gate Entrance
      The Main Gate has several ticket booths. The aisles are wide and level. There are no lowered countertops.

      The Main Gate entrance has a Men’s and Women’s multi-user style Restroom available with accessible stalls. There is also a Family style Restroom available.

      The Shaded Grounds:
      The outdoor food booth has high countertops.

      There is outdoor bench seating available.

      The Gift Shop:
      The Gift shop has air conditioning, and is well lit and quiet.

      Some of the aisles are narrow where the shelves and clothing racks are closely spaced.

      Main Street:
      There is a path that leads from the Main Gate entrance to the center of the park. This path is located on a long, steep hill. There is a single landing midway up the slope, by the Pelican Pier exhibits. There are handrails present along the slope.

      There is a set of stairs and a large ramp after the Pelican Pier exhibits along the first hill. This ramp has sections of slope that are steep. There are wide landings and handrails present.

      Main Street — The Monkey Island Café:
      There is outdoor table and chair seating available.

      The interior is accessed by a ramp. The landing at the top of the ramp is small.

      Main Street — The Van Andel Living Shores Aquarium:
      The entrances and exits have push-button activated powered doors.

      There are Men’s and Women’s restrooms available. These are located in a narrow hallway, and opening the door and maneuvering into the Men’s restroom may be difficult.

      The aquarium has air conditioning.

      The interior is kept dimly lit, and is quiet.

      Main Street — The Frogs:
      The entrance has push-button activated powered doors.

      The interior is quiet.

      The exhibits are located in the walls, and are viewable from multiple heights.

      Main Street — The Whistle Stop:
      The food shop has only outdoor dining options. There is chair and table seating available.

      There are lowered countertops present.

      Main Street — Red’s Hobby Farm:
      The path down to the children’s interactive zoo is steep. The ramp does not have handrails.

      The Petting Corral is accessed by a double gate. There is restricted maneuvering clearance between the two gates.

      The Waterfall Trail — Boardwalk:
      The transitions between the concrete paths and the boardwalk are level.

      There are benches with companions spaces available along the boardwalk.

      There are many landings available along the boardwalk.

      There are handrails present along the entire boardwalk.

      The Zip Line and Waterfall Overlook are only accessed by stairs.

      The Forrest Trail — Idema Funicular:
      The railway cars have large clear floor spaces.

      The transition between the station entrances and the railway cars is level.

      The Forrest Trail — Tree Top Outpost:
      The transitions between the boardwalk sections of the Outpost and the Forrest Trail paths has experienced some erosion, creating a pothole and a raised ledge.

      The Forrest Trail — The Nature Play Zone:
      The food shop has only outdoor dining options.

      There are two Family style Restrooms available.

      There are table and chair seating options available.

      The Forrest Trail — The Crawford Tigers of the Realm:
      There are two viewing areas. The Forrest Trail connects the two areas.

      The viewing areas are cooled by overhead fans.

      High Street — North American Exhibits:
      There are Men’s and Women’s multi-user Restrooms available with accessible stalls.

      The exhibits are located along a winding path on a hill. There are sections of the path that have steep slopes.

      High Street — The South American Exhibits:
      The South American Boardwalk has a pronounced slope.

      There is a covered dining area along the boardwalk. There are picnic table seating options available

      Easy Street:
      There are Men’s and Women’s multi-user Restrooms with accessible stalls.

      There is a ramp by the Men’s and Women’s Restrooms that leads to the Bissell’s Lions of Lake Manyara exhibit and the Mokomboso Valley Chimpanzee exhibit. This ramp has a pronounced slope. This ramp has handrails.

      Easy Street — The Mokomboso Valley Building:
      There is a slope that leads from the Africa Exhibit entrance to the Mokomboso Valley facility. This slope has a pronounced incline.

      The Mokomboso Valley interior is air conditioned.

      Easy Street — The Bissell Lions of Lake Manyara:
      The two viewing areas are covered and are cooled by overhead fans.

      There is a flagstone floor between the two viewing areas. Some sections may be uneven.

      The Lion Overlook is only accessed by a set of stairs.

      Easy Street — The Lion’s Den:
      The covered food stand has beverage dispensers on a high counter.

      There are no nearby seating options available.

      Easy Street — Treasures of the Tropics Exhibit:
      The entrance and exit has push-button activated powered doors. The button is placed several feet away from the door.

      The interior is air conditioned.

      The interior is kept dimly lit, and is quiet.

      The entrance by the has path has a pronounced slope. There are handrails present.
    • Accessible Parking Options: John Ball Park Zoo West Parking Lot at 1300 Fulton W. — 0.0 miles from the venue.

      John Ball Park Zoo East Parking Lot at 1300 Fulton W. — 0.0 miles from the venue.

    John Ball Zoo

    • 1300 W. Fulton St.
    • Grand Rapids, MI 49504
    • (616) 336-4301
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