Grand Rapids Zoos and Animal Parks

Grand Rapids is what some might refer to as, “The smallest big city.” We have so many things here that usually are only reserved for the really big cities! There are colleges galore, a massive exhibition center, hockey team, minor league baseball team, high-end museums and colleges, and zoos! We have not one, but 2 zoos in Grand Rapids and both of them bring something unique!
There are also multiple other zoos close by as well as other animal sanctuaries and preserves. So if you’re an animal lover, there are tons of great places to see and learn about a wide variety of animals!

John Ball Zoo (Grand Rapids, MI): The oldest zoo in Grand Rapids, John Ball Zoo was founded in 1891 as a small menagerie of birds and other native animals and has since grown to house over 61 types of animals from all over the world. Some of the favorite displays include the chimpanzees, red pandas, penguins and lions. Over the years, they have also increased the amount of extracurricular activities at the zoo itself adding a zipline and ropes course. There are also several different event days they host throughout the year with unique activities and learning opportunities. Really want to get up close with the animals? Sign up for a half day as a Zoo Keeper!

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park (Alto, MI): Started as a small hobby farm raising deer and elk and then buffalo, owners Dan and Dawn Hoekstra quickly realized they had a passion to share animals with people and created all of the park into what it is today. Located on 80 acres in Alto, they have over 60 species of animals and some fun ways to interact with them. You can feed giraffes, interact with friendly budgies as you feed them, or take a walk on their new elevated path through the safari section to see zebras, ostriches, and many other animals. Since the park is smaller than John Ball, it can be easier and more entertaining for younger kids, but adults will also have fun as well.

Binder Park Zoo (Battle Creek, MI): There’s an African adventure waiting in Battle Creek! Binder Park Zoo has been around since 1977 and is on 433 acres of land. This zoo is unique in the fact that they enclosures are huge allowing the animals large areas to wander, so it feels more wild! You can travel around to different parts of the zoo by the Tram or the ZO&O Railroad! Put on your good walking shoes, though, because there is a lot of walking between and around certain exhibits. Binder Park likes to boast that no two visits are the same!

Potter Park Zoo (Lansing, MI): Founded in 1920, Potter Park was a public park with a menagerie of native animals that was free to tour. There have been over 100 species added since then. They are open year round and are a “sensory certified zoo” for kids who may need help in those areas. Fun activities include a petting zoo, camel and pony rides, and Keeper talks about a variety of animals.

There are also a number of other places to see unique animals around Grand Rapids too! Check out these other fun spots!

Blanford Nature Center

Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary

Lewis Farms

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