John Ball Zoo

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
Making a gift to the JUMP program provides unique educational opportunities and helps cultivate important connections that foster healthy learning and living. If you would like to make a gift to the JUMP program, please visit and select JUMP as your designation or contact our Development team at 616-336-3309 or

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for JUMP admission and how do I get admitted to the Zoo for free?
In 2022, 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 admissions booth, along with any additional household members.

Do we need tickets in advance? 
We highly recommend reserving your JUMP tickets online prior to your visit. By reserving your tickets online ahead of your visit you can select and assure your day and entry time. 

You can find more about what you can expect during your visit and how to reserve your tickets through this link

Are there any date restrictions?
Cardholders are eligible for free admission each day of the season except for the 2022 special events listed below and IllumiZoo. Cardholders and their guests will be asked to pay admission on these event days.

WGVU Kids Day - August 4
Zoo Goes Boo - October 21, 22, and 23
Zoo Goes Boo - October 28, 29, and 30

Do you still mail out JUMP passes?
John Ball Zoo will no longer distribute JUMP passes. If you are an active MI Bridges cardholder, you can reserve your tickets online. You can then download your tickets and present them and your MI Bridges card at the admission gate for free admission.