John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo's Historical Timeline: 2010 to Present



Mighty Mike arrives, a seasonal exhibit of an enormous alligator.

Zoo receives largest donation in its history, $5 million pledge from Bea Idema and Bill & Bea Idema Foundation

Zoo Society kicks off $12.5 million campaign.

Flamingo eggs from the Atlanta Zoo hatch at John Ball Zoo.


Mighty Mike returns for a second season at the Zoo.

Crain’s Detroit Business names the Zoo the 4th most attended cultural facility in Michigan.


Zoo opens the new gift shop, Idema Funicular and Forest Realm, Bissell Tree House, and Central Services Building.


Meijer Grizzly Bear and Jandernoa Treetop Outpost open in the Forest Realm.

County and Zoo Society form task force to move the Zoo to operation by non-profit.

Zoo kicks off R.A.R.E. (Really Awesome, Really Endangered) promotion which highlights an endangered species a day for 65 days. Promotion ends with visit from Joel Sartore, National Geographic fellow and photographer who photographed several of the Zoo’s endangered animals for his Photo Ark project.


Contract signed that transfers governance and operation of the Zoo to a non-profit entity.

Zoo Society changes its charter and name to John Ball Zoo.

County retains ownership of the Zoo's property and continues to support the Zoo through a management fee.

Zoo opens the Crawford Tigers of the Realm and Forest Habitat, donated by Bill and Marilyn Crawford.

Zoo breaks all attendance records with 523,000 visitors.

Precious, the Zoo’s Komodo Dragon, passes away.


Crawford Tigers of the Realm-River Habitat opens.

John Ball Zoo Wildlife Conservation Fund celebrates 30 years of providing grants to wildlife conservation projects around the world.

The Zoo receives the AZA Quarter Century Award for 25 years on continuous accreditation.


The Zoo celebrates its 125 years of caring and conserving our wildlife and our environment. 
Check out our 125 events and ways to support the Zoo.

Farside Trail is renovated and made into Wild Way, a primate trail.

New Master Plan designed for the future growth of Zoo.