Everyone can be a hero to the species in their own backyards through John Ball Zoo’s Habitat Hero program. 

Through Habitat Hero, the Zoo partners with communities in Kent County to give away at least 2,000 native plants during the spring and summer at the Zoo, along with community events. The program aims to educate residents on the ways native plants such as trees, shrubs and pollinator plants help wildlife by providing important elements of their habitats like food and shelter. Another goal of Habitat Hero is to create corridors of wildlife habitats in urban settings that can be used by pollinators as they navigate these spaces. 

“Habitat Hero offers the opportunity to learn how we can create amazing habitats for local wildlife right in our own backyards,” said Travis Kurtz, community science coordinator at John Ball Zoo. “John Ball Zoo wants folks to know that everyone can participate in wildlife conservation, and small steps like planting native species can go a long way.” 

Native plants are often preferred by insects and, in some cases, are key to their survival – like milkweed for caterpillars of the monarch butterfly. 

Visitors to the Zoo can take advantage of the Habitat Hero program during upcoming Wildlife Exploration Days, including: 

  • World Ocean Day on June 20 
  • World Chimp Day on July 11 
  • World Lion Day on Aug. 7 
  • Monarch Day on Sept. 14 

The Zoo is also partners with several neighborhood associations and has upcoming events with the Eastown Community Association and Neighbors of Belknap Lookout to give away plants and educate visitors about native plantings. Upcoming events include the Neighbors of Belknap Lookout Speaker Series on June 13; Bizarre Bazaar on June 15 in Eastown; and the Belknap Tour de Food Trucks event on June 27. 

John Ball Zoo’s mission is to save wildlife and wild places. The Zoo has a dedicated horticulture staff that plants a variety of native and non-native plants throughout the Zoo, so guests can learn about plants that attract and help wildlife like bees and butterflies. The Zoo encourages residents to do the same around their homes and neighborhoods and offers resources on its website