John Ball Zoo is excited to welcome back guests!

John Ball Zoo announced that they will be opening to the general public beginning Monday, June 8.

Using the theme “Protect the Herd”, John Ball Zoo has implemented additional health and safety procedures. The most notable change is the request for all guests; including members, non-members and MI Bridges cardholders to reserve a timed ticket online prior to their arrival due to the limited capacity the zoo will open with.

Along with timed ticketing, John Ball Zoo has added ground markers and signage that will be placed throughout the Zoo to remind guests about maintaining 6 feet between groups. In areas where social distancing is limited or in high touch point areas, there will be closures of some guest spaces that may include indoor spaces, outdoor play areas, and experiences.

The Zoo has also added hand washing and hand sanitizing stations and implementing more frequent and detailed cleaning protocols to their already comprehensive cleaning schedule.

Guests will notice John Ball Zoo staff wearing face masks. While not required, it is recommended that guests join in wearing a face mask as well. Face masks will be available upon request or for purchase at the gift shop.

John Ball Zoo officials say that while there are new health and safety protocols, there are also many exciting new additions to the Zoo this year. Along with the inclusively designed playground that was completed last fall, guests will be welcomed with a new entry with a gently curving, inclusively designed entry valley pathway. This will eliminate the steep hill guests faced when first entering the Zoo, and will make the Zoo more accessible and welcoming for everyone.

Not only that, but the new infrastructure allows the zoo to divert close to 25 million gallons of stormwater annually from the Grand River. This is done through leaching basins in the zoo’s stormwater management system, which prevent stormwater and runoff from entering the system by absorbing it into the ground. In turn, the rain water that enters the zoo’s system is diverted to the stormwater separator system to filter out sediment, oil and debris before it is returned to the zoo’s pond out front.

The BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise exhibit is also ready to greet guests featuring more than 40 life-sized animal sculptures created with 1.8 million toy building bricks. These sculptures of endangered animals will not only entertain but also educate children and families about the importance of the preservation of endangered species. John Ball Zoo is the first zoo in Michigan to host the exhibit and only the third one in the United States.

Plus, let’s not forget about the meerkats and their habitat partner the cape porcupine. Their new innovative habitat has wide viewing windows making for a fun and engaging experience with these curious animals. The habitat has also achieved SITES Certification, which is a “daughter” program of LEED and helps organizations sustainably construct and manage buildings in natural settings and/or outdoor recreation and nature areas to protect ecosystems and promote climate regulation, carbon storage and flood mitigation.

For more information on online timed ticket reservations and the safety guidelines, visit the John Ball Zoo’s website at If you have any questions, you can call (616) 336-4300 or email

John Ball Zoo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded in 1891 and located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Guided by the four core values of Conservation, Education, Community and Celebrate, John Ball Zoo accomplishes the mission to inspire our community to be actively engaged in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment.