John Ball Zoo: Go for the new tigers, stay for some healthy fun

Photo credit: Mark Gray

Tigers are back at John Ball Zoo! The new Crawford Tigers of the Realm exhibit opened in June, and the big cats have attendance on the rise. Three Amur tigers: males Yuri and Kuza, and female Nika have been warmly received at their new Grand Rapids home.

If you’re planning a trip to see the new arrivals, make the most of your day with these five healthy ways to enjoy the zoo.

Get your walk on. Set your sights on getting to the top of the Forest Realm Trail on foot. On your way up to the second highest ridge in Grand Rapids, you’ll have overhead views of the grizzly bears and find the new tiger exhibit. At the end, great views of downtown are reward for a hilly walk.

Add some play to your day. Take a break from the animals at the TreeTops Outpost and Children’s Nature Play Zones. Little ones can blow off some steam at these fun stops that encourage creativity and outdoor recreation.

Have some high-flying adventures. Take your pick of gravity-defying experiences by checking out the zoo’s zip line and Sky Trail ropes course. Fly over the petting zoo from four stories up on the zip line, or test your courage and strength from the same height on the ropes course. Each adventure costs $6 or do both for $11.

DSCF4641 (2)Stop for a healthy snack. The zoo recently added fresh vending machine options at different locations in the zoo. You can grab organic squeezable fruit for toddlers or satiate your sweet or salty cravings with Kashi bars or Popchips.

Naturally relieve some stress. Studies confirm that we experience health benefits such as stress reduction from encountering natural settings. Going to parks and zoos count, plus adorable animal encounters can brighten anyone’s day. Besides the new tigers, some notable animal exhibits to make you smile at John Ball Zoo include:

  • Baby monkeys! Both the Black Howler and Colobus monkey displays are featuring fresh offspring this summer. Check out the cuddly cuteness.

    A baby Black Howler monkey gets a ride. Babies and females don't appear black in color.
    A baby Black Howler monkey gets a ride. Babies and females don’t appear black in color.
  • The budgies. The unique Budgie Aviary allows you to stand in the midst of these colorful Australian birds. For $1, you can purchase a feeding stick to, literally, have them eating out of your hands.
  • The petting corral. Sheep, goats, and chickens are ready for their close-up at this popular kid-friendly attraction.
  • Pay a little extra – only $1 – to touch and feel the sting rays at Sting Ray Lagoon, the only exhibit of its kind in Michigan.
  • The wallabies look like small kangaroos and are always entertaining. They’re allowed to crawl under their exhibit fence and you can pet them on their backs if they do. If they stay behind the fence, they’ll still make you smile.
A friendly wallaby.
A friendly wallaby.








Tell us how you make the most of your day at John Ball Zoo!


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  1. This post reminds me of the fun found at John Ball Zoo. It has been along time since I have been there. I will put this activity on our to do list. 🙂 Thanks for the post.

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