John Ball Zoo

Community Engagement

Because we are a nonprofit organization, we rely on contributions from our community to ensure we go above and beyond in our daily operations. However, it’s important for us to give back to the community that’s given so much to us and to inspire others to be active participants in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment. 

Here are a few ways in which you help us accomplish that: 

  • Over 520,000 visitors in 2019
  • 2nd most attended cultural institution west of Detroit
  • Actively participating in over 40 Species Survival Plans (SSP)
  • A partner with the Grand Rapids Public School (GRPS) Zoo School
  • $40 million in economic impact to the businesses and the communities surrounding the Zoo 
  • Accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)

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 Maggie Smitt 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 2020, 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.

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.

WGVU Kids Day - August 6
Zoo Goes Boo - October 16, 17, and 18
Zoo Goes Boo - October 23, 24, and 25

Do you still mail out JUMP passes?
John Ball Zoo will no longer distribute JUMP passes. If you are an active MI Bridges cardholder, present your card at the admission gate for free admission.

Charitable Donation Requests

John Ball Zoo is happy to support community organizations. As a nonprofit organization, our mission is to inspire our community to be actively engaged in the conservation of wildlife and our natural environment. 

Eligible organizations may receive a maximum of 4 complimentary tickets per organization per calendar year.

To submit a request, please fill out our donation request form.


Contact Us

Walk in: Administration office (Located just outside the entrance of the zoo) from 8 am until 4:30 pm Monday through Friday
Fax: (616)336-3907
Mail: John Ball Zoo, 1300 W. Fulton St. Grand Rapids, MI 49504