John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo opens new gift shop, summer exhibits

June 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

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

Visitors launch over 300 butterflies

August 25, 2011 // 0 Comments

John Ball Zoo hosts second annual butterfly release event  This summer, John Ball Zoo—with support from Michigan Butterflies, a locally owned company specializing in monarch butterflies—raised over 300 monarch butterflies in a small interactive exhibit. Throughout the season, visitors watched the entire life cycle from egg to larvae to chrysalis to adult. On Saturday, August 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Zoo will be hosting a hands-on release of those same butterflies, and they invite families to be a part of it. Releases will take place on the hour—11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.—a total of five releases. Since there will no doubt be more kids than butterflies that day, families will enter a drawing to be one of the “releasers” who will have an opportunity to tag and hand launch the butterflies. Other winners might take home a monarch chrysalis that will emerge into a butterfly for later release. But even if they are not actually selected, kids will still feel part of the action because everyone can gather at the launch site on the boardwalk of the Zoo. There will be lots of other butterfly related activities going on that day as well. The monarch is the only butterfly that travels over 2,000 miles to a very small region in Mexico. It’s not completely understood why all monarchs are driven to return to this area, and even more mysterious is that the offspring of the butterfly that makes the trip returns to the same area its parent came from. The event is free with admission. There is no cost to release a butterfly. John Ball Zoo is located at 1300 W. Fulton, one mile west of downtown Grand Rapids. Hours through September 5, 2011 will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ; admission is $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for kids ages 3-13.

Rockford Freshman Center’s Maria Anel, an Example in Excellence

June 30, 2011 // 0 Comments

John Ball Zoo volunteer has giving nature Maria Anel, 15, is the daughter of Marlene Anel and sister to Arthur and Charlie. Maria is a student with a natural charisma who is responsible, determined, energetic, outgoing and supportive, with deep compassion and empathy. Maria’s giving nature is shown by her willingness to volunteer for others of all ages and her encouraging attitude with friends and teammates. She goes out of her way to find ways to help others in all situations. She is also a volunteer at John Ball Zoo, where she has put in over 100 hours. She is a leader for the Springhill Day Camp, is in student council, Diversity Club, Youth Initiative, a member of the track team, and active in her Bible study group. This student athlete is also an AAU basketball player and volunteers as a Ram Buddy mentor for students at North Rockford Middle School. Maria is strongly motivated to help others and it puts a smile on her face to know she is an instrument that God can use on behalf of those in need. She is an uplifting person with a positive attitude and the ability to problem-solve in many different situations, and is sensitive to others’ feelings. Planning to go to college and find a way to use her life to help others is Maria’s long-term plan. She wants to make her family proud of her accomplishments. Among achievements Maria can already count include authoring an article in fourth grade that was published in a newspaper. She took first place in a first-grade AWANA Bible quiz, and in fifth grade took first in a fundraising effort. As an eighth grader, Maria broke her school’s track record in the 400m. She has taken first-place wins in cross country, won numerous basketball and softball awards and medals, and reached her goal this summer of over 100 volunteer hours. Other activities Maria enjoys include basketball, competitive running, writing, reading, clubs, fishing and spending time with her brothers. She is also active in Blythefield Church. Rockford Freshman Center is proud to recognize Maria as a student with a strong track record of making a difference in the lives of others and a clear Example in Excellence.  

News Bits — March 4, 2010

March 4, 2010 // 0 Comments

Free educational workshops to be offered at EXPO The Rockford Chamber of Commerce recently announced the presentation of 10 free educational workshops to be held at Rockford’s 6th Annual Community EXPO. Businesses with various backgrounds are excited to share their knowledge with the community. Topics range from Financial and Estate Planning, to Tax Developments, to How to Stay Young the First 100 Years, to Fruit Juice, and Monsters! The half-hour presentations begin at 9:30 a.m. and will end at 2:30 p.m. during the EXPO on Saturday, March 20, at Rockford High School. Holistic Care Approach embraces technology with facility expansion With the addition of new technologies Holistic Care Approach (HCA), Grand Rapids, embarked on a construction project to add 1,200 square feet to their existing building. This expansion adds six additional treatment rooms for the many new services now being offered under the guidance of HCA’s new medical director, Dr. Laura Tinning. Growth of services into areas of technology by adding high-tech equipment while maintaining a foundation of hands-on services is the business’ vision. Rockford Construction plans completion of the project by early March, and an open house is being planned for this spring. HCA is a multidisciplinary wellness center specializing in natural health care. The center is located at 3368 Beltline Ct. NE, Grand Rapids, and also features nutritional products and health and wellness classes. For more information, call (616) 361-9221 or visit John Ball Zoo reopens After being closed for a little under three months for the first time ever, John Ball Zoo has reopened for the 2010 season on March 1. The zoo closed on December 6, 2009, due to Kent County budget restrictions. The zoo will host a “Welcome Back” event on Saturday, March 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to mark the grand reopening. The event will feature strolling animals, kids activities and special discounts in the gift shop and concession stand. Spring admission prices apply now through May 7, 2010. They are an affordable $3.50 for adults, $3 for children 13 and under, and free for kids under 2. The zoo is located on Fulton Ave. NW, one mile west of downtown Grand Rapids. Current spring hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit […]

Nature center to offer Birds of Prey show

January 21, 2010 // 0 Comments

Please sign up for the Birds of Prey (Raptors) presentation by the John Ball Zoo on January 30 (details at This is a unique opportunity to see live animals up close while the Zoo is closed this winter. Advance registration is due by January 25 since a minimum number of participants is required (or the presentation must be cancelled). Attend this “Zoo Comes to You” program and get a stamp on your Connecting Families with Nature Passport! (details at

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