A Trip to John Ball Zoo

Sometimes I get lazy in my own town and forget all the great things it has to offer. Summer is the perfect time to take mini-staycations and we did just that last week at John Ball Zoo.

We were really excited to see the new tiger exhibit, but sadly the tigers were being shy and didn’t come out. Thankfully there are a lot of other great exhibits to see and we even got a few behind the scene peaks at some cool parts of the zoo.


The chimp exhibit is always a favorite because they never cease to entertain. We actually met the lead chimp trainer and I learned all sorts of cool facts about these animals. For instance, Sir Mix Alot isn’t the only one who likes big butts. The female chimps backsides were quite pronounced when we were visiting because it is mating season and that is how they attract males. In what I found to be a hilarious twist of events the male chimp was far more interested in humans then the chimp ladies and he was constantly trying to get our attention.


random flamingo shot because they are so purty

We also got quite the show from the bears who were definitely feeling the love. The picture is a bit R-rated but the kids all loved how the bears were hugging each other. I swear every time I go to a zoo some animal group has been listening to a little too much Barry White. I think Hannah has discovered what is going on but the other two just think the animals are affectionate friends.

zoo demo

Our group was treated to a cool educational session about owls and ferrets. Is this owl not the cutest thing you have ever seen? I wanted to stick him in my pocket!! The zoo does tons of educational programs including summer camps, library programs and behind the scenes tours. They also have educational moments throughout the zoo every day so make sure you check the schedule of events before you go.


behind the scenes of the aquarium

We were at the Lincoln Park Zoo last month and the kids were so bummed they didn’t have penguins. Our awesome zoo has a huge penguin exhibit and we got to see the penguins being fed. Just outside the aquarium you can pet sting rays for a small fee as well. I didn’t get a picture of my kids because they were totally freaked out and refused to do it.


But what they lack in bravery while touching slimy ocean creatures, they totally made up for at the zipline. Hannah was the only kid who made the weight requirement but she loved sailing through the trees overlooking the zoo. There is also an incredible ropes course that we weren’t able to try, but are saving for a future visit when I have more hands to help with Silas who is too small to attempt it yet.

We had a great day at the zoo and can’t wait to go back again. If you are near Grand Rapids, please check out John Ball Zoo. The admission is very reasonable and there is so much to do inside beyond just watching animals do their thing. It is very stroller friendly and perfect for the whole family!

My family was provided with zoo passes, but no other financial compensation was offered for this post. All opinions are mine. 


  1. Shelley says:

    The flamingo exhibit is quite fragrant. I can never hang out there for too long. But I love our zoo and I’m looking forward to checking out the tiger exhibit!

  2. Sarah says:

    Oh the hugging….. we watched a couple of birds “fighting” too… one poor volunteer was having a very hard time ignoring the kid when he kept insisting she answer his “what are those birds doing” question….

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