For the best in outdoor adventure, a great destination for the entire family is John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids. The terrain and the variety of worldly areas are exciting to experience. The animals include lions and tigers, grizzly bears and mountain lions, wolves and flamingos, Ring-tailed lemurs, howler monkeys, parrots and so much more from different continents of the world.
Once you arrive, consider your course as the zoo is winding and hilly and there are many ways to explore. You can start at the entrance and walk up, or begin with a trip to the top in the Funicular (like a cable car) to the observation deck with a nice view of downtown Grand Rapids. Whichever way you choose to go, you’ll be able to see fascinating tiger habitats (Crawford Tigers of the Realm) and observe Maned wolves and grizzly bears. Watch chimpanzees at play at Mokomboso Valley and observe lions and more at Bissell’s Lions of Lake Manyara. The chimpanzee’s home and the lion habitat, both rank among the largest of their kind in the nation!
Stop by Van Andel Living Shores Aquarium for a peak at Magellanic Penguins as they playfully fly underwater. While there, surround yourself with eels, anemones, and exotic fish in the 40,000-gallon Kelp Forest tank that ebbs and flows with the tide.
Discover little critters like different frogs, toads, and salamanders, a vast diversity of reptiles and amphibians and find many small primates along the way as well, like the Black-footed cat, Dart frogs, Caimans, a variety of small primates, and insects.
Get cheek to beak at the Budgie Aviary to feed these colorful Australian native birds out of your hand. Fly along (securely harnessed) on a four story, 600-foot, Zipline—the real deal! Try out the Sky Trail Ropes Course, four stories tall with two climbing levels and over 15 obstacles ranging in difficulty. Take a souvenir photo on top of the friendly Camels where Mom and Dad can ride too. Kids love to play at the TreeTops Outpost and Children’s Nature Play Zone. Visit Red’s Hobby Farm to interact with goats and sheep and other domestic animals. Find unique jewels at the Gem Company where you’ll pan for your own gems using their brand-new Sluice (device for rinsing with water). On the weekends see the Tools of the Trade Animal Encounters at the Forest Realm Amphitheater – three shows a day – and see how John Ball Zoo staff members train some animals and learn how they keep them healthy and happy.
With multiple concession areas throughout the zoo you’ll never go hungry. Or bring a picnic and rest on the shaded grounds where you’ll see the much-loved Mr. John Ball statue.
Getting married or gearing up for a retirement party? John Ball Zoo would be the perfect place to gather with family and friends in the modern Bissell Tree House. Kids birthday party packages are also a big hit within the zoo!
For more information see jbzoo.org, Facebook, or call 616-336-4300.
Featured image courtesy of: John Ball Zoo