John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo’s JUMP program helps break down barriers to outdoor, nature-based education by providing free admission for qualified individuals across the state of Michigan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for JUMP admission and how do I get admitted to the Zoo for free?
Any Michigan resident who carries an MI Bridges card, including WIC, can attend John Ball Zoo for free with up to 9 free household members. Eligible participants must present their MI Bridges card at the Tickets and Membership window, along with any additional household members and a valid ID.

Are there any date restrictions?
Cardholders are eligible for free admission each day of the season except for the special events listed below. Cardholders and their guests will be asked to pay admission on these event days.  

JUMP Story

Ruth Jones, a former John Ball Zoo board member and principal for Grand Rapids Public Schools, imagined a program that would make the Zoo accessible to families regardless of income. All while encouraging an enriching, educational, and cultural experience. In 1998, the JUMP program was born and has since welcomed hundreds of thousands of families to the Zoo.

Impact of Nature Play

Nature play can encourage care for the earth, nature can improve academic outcomes, and nature can improve health and wellbeing. Learn more about the positive effects of nature from the Children & Nature Network at

Supporting JUMP

While John Ball Zoo is committed to continuing the JUMP program, the expense incurred impacts other Zoo projects, including habitat renovations, expansions, and educational experiences. With the help of our generous supporters and community, families of all income levels can experience outdoor education and the Zoo’s mission of saving wildlife and wild places.

If you would like to support the JUMP program, please visit and select JUMP as your designation. Or connect with our Development team at (616) 336-3309 or

Upcoming Event Dates

WGVU Kids Day - August 4
Living Lights an IllumiZoo Experience - September 30 - November 13
Zoo Goes Boo - October 21, 22, and 23
Zoo Goes Boo - October 28, 29, and 30