John Ball Zoo

Welcome to the Zoo Insider! 


While John Ball Zoo is closed and many are home from work and school, let us help make your time fun and educational.

Join us on Facebook as we visit our animals and various areas around the Zoo, talk with keepers and more with videos and pictures on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

Don’t have access to social media? No worries! All videos will be posted to this webpage and to our YouTube channel.

Bear Enrichment 

We visit the bear habitat with Yogi and Boo Boo as they receive enrichment! We talk about the importance of enrichment for our animals and making enrichment for your own animals (or family members) at home. 

Red Panda Visit

We are visiting the red pandas Wyatt and Wasabi. Just like you, the red pandas prefer to rest for much of the day, but we have compiled some of their funny video highlights from the last year for you to enjoy. 

Do you love Red Pandas? Become a Red Panda Ranger by visiting the Red Panda Network - and “climb” the mountain levels outlined on the Ranger Program form. It's free, educational, and FUN!   

JBZ supported the Red Panda Network in 2019 with funding for 5 herder tents, 5 efficient stoves for herders, and the reforestation of 10+ acres of red panda habitat. The tent and stoves mean herders don't need to use wood from red panda habitat to create their homes or for their daily cooking needs.

Target Training with Ambassador Animal Turnip

This Zoo Insider we are learning about target training. We will be practicing target training with our striped skunk, Turnip. You will learn the importance of target training, how we do it, and how you can do target training at home with your own pet. 

Turnip is an ambassador animal for John Ball Zoo. By going out in the community to places such as classrooms and libraries, ambassador animals help teach the importance of how to appropriately interact with wildlife and about the mission of the Zoo. 

Using positive reinforcement training techniques is great not only for pets but also for training your kids or siblings or partner at home. Ha, ha. But remember, when target training, rewarding the baby steps are really important when establishing behaviors.

We’d love to see you practicing target training with your own pet. Post your videos or pictures below! Or, if you don’t have a pet to train, draw a skunk and post your artwork! 

Plus, in the video watch for movement in the background. The target training is in the chimp’s day room so you can see them checking it out.

Amur tiger visit

Join us as we visit Finn the Amur tiger at John Ball Zoo! Learn more about what amazing animals they are and how we can help protect their wild habitat. 

Since 1900, the wild population of Amur tigers has drastically decreased by over 95%. This is primarily due to habitat loss and poaching. You might be surprised to learn that many products we use in our daily life could be negatively impacting the tiger’s native habitats through products containing unsustainably harvested palm oil. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a leader in the education on the importance of selecting products produced using sustainably harvested palm oil. They even have a cool app that you can download to help you buy products made with sustainable palm oil! Learn more along with a link to the shopping app at

Tigers can be hard to spot in their habitat with unique stripes helping them to camouflage - remember tiger stripes are like their fingerprints, no two are the same. Can you find them in the wilds of your own home or yard? Download our fun printouts that kids can color, cut-out and then hide for each other to try and find. See who can spot the most tigers and discover where they hide the best. If you want an extra challenge, add other animals that share their native habitat to hide as well.

Download the printouts - 
Exercise #1 - tigers only here 
Exercise #2 - multi-animals

Tell us about your adventure and have fun!

Animal Care Update and News

Dr. Ryan Colburn gives an update on how animal care continues at the John Ball Zoo by the keepers and veterinary teams. He also shares some great news on our lesser Madagascar tenrec - Jonah! 

A tenrec looks similar to a hedgehog, which may be a pet that some of you have at home. If you do, we’d love to see a picture of your hedgehog and tell us their name - If you don’t have a hedgehog, draw a picture of the tenrec in the video. She is super cute!

Frogs & Friends Visit

Join us as we visit Frogs & Friends for our next Zoo Insider. Learn about the exhibits, meet our conservation manager Bill Flanagan and hear about his passion for herpetology, and how as spring begins to start listening for frogs out in the wild. 

Visit our website to learn more about FrogWatch USA, a citizen science program that provides individuals, groups, and families the opportunity to learn about wetlands in their communities and report data on the calls of local frogs and toads. We also have fun links to test your frog call knowledge and listening to calls of frogs in Michigan. 

Also, be on the lookout for an upcoming Zoo Insider when Bill goes outside and helps us identify frog calls!


Join Zoo team members Megan and Bill as they go on an adventure tracking a mystery animal who is hibernating on the grounds at John Ball Zoo. Watch to find out which four-legged, reptile they locate! Learn about how telemetry is used to track the reptile, how to measure the environmental variables about the habitat and what you can do to help this reptile. 

Spending time in nature is an important part of conservation! We created a nature scavenger hunt for you to complete on your own or with your quaranteam. See how many items you can find, smell, hear, and feel from this list, and enjoy spending some time outdoors!

Download the scavenger hunt here

Frog Calls

Join Bill Flanagan, conservation manager at John Ball Zoo, as he helps us identify frog calls in the wild! 

Don’t forget to visit the FrogWatch USA page on our website to learn more about becoming a citizen scientist. You can learn how to help these species by reporting data on their calls. You can also find fun links to test your frog call knowledge and listen to calls of Michigan’s frogs.


In this Zoo Insider learn about animal training and its importance. John Ball Zoo's largest resident, Booboo the brown bear, has mastered a number of behaviors with Keeper Julia's help! These behaviors allow Booboo to be an active participant in her own care. By opening her mouth, she can show our vet team her teeth for a dentist check-up. She can even give herself injections when it's time for a routine vaccine (with the help of her keepers, of course)! Watch as Keeper Julia and Booboo practice these behaviors in one of their training sessions.

On your visit this summer to the Zoo, you can learn more about our training tools and techniques at the daily Tools of the Trade Animal Encounters program. This program highlights the tools that John Ball Zoo uses during training and why it's important, along with adaptations that animals use to survive in the wild.

Programs like Tools of the Trade are one of the many educational programs offered by the Zoo. They occur during your visit and also are available in our communities, including libraries and classrooms. Be on the lookout and we encourage you to participate. The Zoo’s educational programs are engaging and fun, while actively learning about wildlife and how you can help in their conservation in the wild.