John Ball Zoo

Can I view the rental venues?

Yes, we do showings Monday through Friday 9am to 4pm by appointment.  You can email or call 616-336-4314 to schedule an appointment.

How much is each space?

2017 After Hours Zoo Rentals are $4,000 (Mon-Fri) and $4,500 (Sat-Sun) and $6.00 per guest.

2017 Ball Room Rentals are $500 (Mon-Thurs) and $800 (Fri-Sun) as the base fee.

2017 Bissell Tree House Rentals are $1,400-$1,800 (Mon-Thurs) and $2,200-$2,600 (Fri-Sun) base fee based on guest count.

2018 Bissell Tree House Rental rates, please email or call 616-336-4314.

Can I temporarily hold a date and space?

For all spaces, we do 10 day holds before a contract must be sent out.

How can I officially reserve a date with a deposit?

John Ball Zoo will ask for some basic information to generate a contract for the date.  The contract will be sent via email with the deposit amounts (50% + $500 damage deposit for Ball Room and Bissell Tree House rentals and 100% base fee deposit for After Hours Rentals), due dates, and timing for rental.  Deposits due within two weeks of receiving contract.

How can I check availability on a date?

You may email or call the Rentals Department at 616-336-4314.

Are you flexible with facility rental times?

After Hours Rentals are private zoo rentals only during the hours of 6:30pm to 9:00pm.  The zoo remains public during the day.

Ball Room and Bissell Tree House Rentals may start as early as 8am. End times do not go past 11pm.  Rental of the facility does not guarantee access the day before, the entire day of, or the day after rental date.

What are the end-times for bar or entertainment?

All bars must close 30 minutes prior to the end time of rental.  Last song is 5 minutes prior to the end time of rental.

Are setup and tear-down included?

Your base rental will include 2 hour set up, 4 hour rental, and 1 hour tear down.  This is 7 hours inclusive.  Additional hours may be purchased at $200 per hour.  Additional hours can be used for set up, rental, or tear down, if needed.

Set-up and tear-down must occur within the same day, beginning and ending at pre-approved times, or additional hours will be charged.  All deliveries must be scheduled in advance through the Rental Staff. 

What is included in the price of the facility rental?

After Hours Rentals include private access to the zoo from 6:30pm-9pm (guests may come earlier during public hours).  All interactive exhibits, buildings, and areas will be open, unless otherwise noted due to construction or other circumstances.  Zoo staff will facilitate zoo operations.  A rental coordinator will help guide client through the evenings activities.

Ball Room and Bissell Tree House Rentals include basic table/chair set up, 2 hour set up, 4 hour rental, 1 hour tear down, and up to 2 site visit consultations with rental coordinator.  The Bissell Tree House also includes transportation for guests from parking lot to venue and back.

Can I use my own caterer?

We have five preferred caterers, of which one must be used for all food service: Applause Catering & Events, Gilmore Catering, Martha's Catering, The Catering Company, and West Michigan Caterer.

Do you have a wet weather contingency plan for outdoor events?

All rentals occur rain or shine.

Can I use my own vendors?

The caterer must be from our preferred list.

John Ball Zoo will provide a list of recommended DJs, Florists, etc. but does not require the use of these vendors.  All outside vendors must be approved by the Rentals Department.

Can I provide my own celebration or wedding cake?

Yes. Cake is the only exception of food that can be from a vendor other than the preferred caterer.  However, we do not have cold storage.

Can I bring in my own alcohol?

No.  All alcohol must be purchased and served through John Ball Zoo.  No outside alcohol may be brought into the zoo.  This includes alcohol as a gift.

Who does my set up?

John Ball Zoo sets up tables/chairs.

Caterers sets up linens/glassware/silverware and maybe contracted to supply decoration.

Florists set up centerpieces and may be contracted to set up registration, gift, or cake tables.

DJ sets up own equipment and is provided a table and chair.

Master/Mistress of ceremonies (personal friend of bride/groom) generally helps with finishing touches to tables, registration, gift table, and cake table.

Do the rentals coordinator plan and set everything up?

The rentals coordinator is there to help guide, but does not plan or set up.  A layout and itinerary sheet is always accompanied for each rental and confirmed with the client on a site visit at least one month prior from the rental date.

Do I need to purchase zoo admission tickets for my rental?

For After Hours Rental, the per guest fee is the admission into the zoo as a wristband and billed after the rental.

Ball Room and Bissell Tree House rentals do not include admission to the zoo but is not required for the rental.


Are animals available during my rental?

After Hours Rentals includes the entire zoo until 9pm, with animals out throughout the night.  Large carnivores go in starting at 8pm.  Buildings (Aquarium, and Tropics) are open until 9pm.

Ball Room and Bissell Tree House rentals do not include the zoo or animals but an animal ambassador can be available for greeting ($75.00).  A set group of animal ambassadors is available but never guaranteed.

What should I tell my guests to do when they park/arrive?

All guests may park in the western most lot off Fulton Street, or the overflow eastern lot off Fulton Street.  After Hours and Bissell Tree House guests may walk to the admissions booth.  Ball Room guests may walk directly to the Administration Building, 2nd floor.

Do guests have to pay to park?

Parking is public and free.  There are handicap spots available but no other reserved spots.

Who does the bar service?

John Ball Zoo owns a liquor license and will provide all alcohol and bar service.  Your rental coordinator will help assist in coordinating.

Does my rental help support the zoo?

Yes.  John Ball Zoo is a non-profit organization.  All revenue produced from rentals and bar service goes back into the zoo to help fund exhibits, conservation projects, utilities, etc.

Who does the tear down?

Everyone who sets up is responsible for tear down.  If florist does not come back for flowers, the renter is responsible for removing.  Gifting of centerpieces/flowers to guests as they leave is acceptable and welcomed.  Items left behind will be thrown out.

What is the capacity for the venues?

After Hours Rental capacity is up to 5,000 guests.

Ball Room Rental capacity is up to 150 seated, recommend 130 or less for receptions.

Bissell Tree House Rental capacity is 180 or less for receptions.

Capacities for Ball Room and Bissell Tree House does not include a dance floor or bar area.

Are there limits to decorations?

Specific restrictions include:  no open flames - candles must be enclosed in hurricane lamps or glass shields, no live animals, no balloons of any kind, no use of ladders, no rice, birdseed, flower petals, confetti or glitter, no flammable materials, such as sparklers and firecrackers, no straw or hay, no special effects equipment, including but not limited to, smoke, fog, and pyrotechnic machines. 

Tape, tacks, staples, nails, screws or putty on walls or fixtures belonging to the Zoo are not permitted.

Decorations may not be affixed to any wall or ceiling.

What are the typical costs for bar service?

Bar service packages are a per person fee + bartender fees ($25 per hour for set up, service, tear down), 20% service fee, and 6% sales tax.  The ranges are as follows:

GUESTS                     RANGE

50                      $1,500  to $2,400

75                      $2,100 to $3,400

100                    $2,600 to $4,400

125                    $3,500 to $5,400

150                    $3,800 to $6,500

175                    $4,300 to $7,500