John Ball Zoo

When You Visit

Update Regarding the Bird Flu

Good news- some of our feathered friends have been moved to their outdoor habitats!

As many of you know, the presence of the Bird Flu in West Michigan has prevented us from bringing our birds outdoors. While our birds have been healthy, this has been a precautionary decision to protect them from the virus. 

While some birds (toucans, pied crows, Von der Decken’s hornbills, and Egyptian geese) are coming out for viewing, other bird species are still inside and not viewable to guests. A variety of factors play into these decisions including each individual species' susceptibility to the virus as well as the type of habitat they are housed in. Each group of birds and each habitat are being evaluated individually so that birds can return to those habitats when the risk level drops. We hope to see birds gradually returning to their habitats over the next several weeks.

Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Ryan Colburn, and the Animal Care team have been monitoring the spread of the Bird Flu throughout Michigan, evaluating our options, and making the best possible decisions for the birds in our care. While we miss sharing these amazing birds with guests, their safety and well-being is our top priority. We’re hoping things continue to progress in a positive direction so we can move even more of the birds outdoors. We plan on keeping you all as updated as possible on the status of our birds and their availability for viewing.


The Heat of Summer

Phew! Summer is here and so is the heat. 

Here's what you need to know about hot days at the Zoo:

  • We've made some changes to Princess Day on June 14th due to the high temperatures expected. See details here.
  • Sometimes when it's too hot outside, you'd rather stay in bed, and the same goes for the animals in our care. Please note that extreme temperatures may affect the availability of animals for viewing. Some animals will be given the opportunity to go inside if they choose.
  • Need to cool down? The Zoo has plenty of naturally shaded areas to retreat to, as well as the Natural Treasures Building, Aquarium, and the Frogs and Friends Building. You can also stop and get yourself a cold, tasty treat at any of our Concession buildings. Hudsonville ice cream is sold at the Whistle Stop, located across from Red's Hobby Farm. See the zoo map.


Where is Sammy?

"Sammy," one of our 44-year-old male chimpanzees, has been behind the scenes in recent weeks due to some health issues.

Despite these health issues, Sammy has done well taking new medications, and his keepers have been keeping a very close eye on him.  He has been showing signs of gradual improvement each day, and even ​learned how to allow his caretakers to assess his blood pressure using a cuff designed to read from his finger! 

Sammy will remain under careful observation until he regains his strength before rejoining the troop where guests can enjoy his unique antics again.  

For updateds on Sammy's health and to learn more about his story, please click here.