This summer brings many exciting new features to John Ball Zoo. The very first to debut was the new “Gifts of the Wild” gift shop that opened Saturday, May 12. The new shop is a free-standing building that makes a bold statement at the zoo’s reconfigured front entrance. It’s over four times larger than the former gift shop and therefore carries four times the merchandise. The additional space allows for a wider variety of merchandise from better jewelry and home décor items to quite possibly the region’s largest collection of stuffed animals! The shop will anchor the south end of the entrance plaza.
Also new in the plaza will be a membership convenience center. On June 1, the Zoo planned to begin the unveiling of the Idema Forest Realm, Funicular and the Bissell Tree.
May 12 was also the opening day for many of the Zoo’s seasonal and interactive exhibits. Guests enjoy the Far Side of the World Trail with the walk-through wallabies, lemurs, and exotic birds; Red’s Hobby Farm and petting corral with the three pigs, chickens, turkeys, owl, cow, sheep and goats; and the Zip Line, Ropes Course and Swan Boats rides. If the overnight temperatures stay mild, visitors might get to see Precious, the Komodo dragon, in his outdoor area, the flamingos, and the feedable budgies. The camels, along with the Henry the baby camel, opened up on April 28.
“Opening for the interactive exhibits in the summer is always exciting,” said Andy McIntyre, acting zoo director. “It’s that hands-on experience that helps kids identify with animals, and that is a critical step in establishing a deep respect for our natural world and wildlife.”
Admission to John Ball Zoo is $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for children 3-13 years old. Kids 2 and under are always free. Current Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call (616) 336-4300 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.