John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo History

125 YEARS 1891-2016 … and Beyond

In many ways, our history reflects that of most American zoos created in the Victorian era. Before then, only the very rich had access to collections of exotic animals. Cities began to build their own zoos in the late 19th century. For the first time, everyone could share in the mysterious and fascinating world of animals.

Zoos have evolved through the years as we learned more about exotic animal husbandry and exhibit design. Education became a major focus, naturalistic design became a force, and conservation became the mission.

Our story reflects that evolution. Our history is rich with great animals, amazing events, fantastic stories, and dedicated people. Take a few moments to learn more about the history and future of your Zoo.

Many thanks to Andrea Perry and Joan Ryskamp for their assistance on the historical timeline.