New stuff at John Ball Zoo

I recently had the opportunity to take my kids to John Ball Zoo with a group of my blogger friends and we had a great time. I grew up going to this zoo almost every summer and lately I’ve been impressed with the new additions. They are definitely getting more into creating natural environments for the animals to live in and that makes it fun as a visitor.

We started with the chimps, one of my favorites at the zoo! Even more fun was that we got to watch them be let outside for the day and got to talk with their keeper.

john ball chimps

We learned some of the nuances of each chimp and the older male had us laughing! They say he’s more human than chimp as when he was born in the 50’s they zoo (or people) that had him must have hand raised him. Something they’ve learned not to do as it takes the wild instincts out of them. He supposedly loves men with beards, so I must take my husband down there soon! And he also loves shoes and will run over to the window to check them out.


The lions were busy lazing around, but the mountain lion was up and active. I think it’s the first time in my many years of going to the zoo that I’ve seen him down off his mountain perch!

john ball mountain lion


The bears were also quite active that morning.


Ahem. The kids thought it was so funny that they were hugging.

As a special part of our trip, we were taken into the back rooms of the aquarium which was really cool. We got to see them preparing food for many of its inhabitants.



The kids also loved the presentation about the screech owl and ferret.



Side note – ferrets gross me out. They look too much like rats for me.

At this point our planned trip was over so the kids and I headed up to see the new tigers. I loved the wooded walk up there. The tigers were still quite shy, but my kids LOVED playing on the play structure up there as well as the tree play yard. We did get to see one of the tigers for a moment, but my little miss wasn’t walking fast enough for me to get up there with my camera.

On the way down we took the funicular.

My kids thought it was great.

I got claustrophobic and spent the ride praying we wouldn’t get stuck! It was not for me.

We had quite the morning at the zoo, and could have spent much more time there had I not been tired of baby wearing my chunky monkey! So we ended our trip to the zoo like every other time we’ve been. A late lunch at the park across the way and a bit of playing on the playground.

Zoo + playground = a nice quiet trip home for mom.

Have you been to the zoo lately? What are your favorite new exhibits?

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About donielle

Donielle is a natural momma of two, lover of real foods, and owner and editor of Grand Rapids Natural Living and Naturally Knocked Up. You can usually find her in the kitchen whipping up some nourishing foods, cuddled on the couch reading books to the littles, avoiding the laundry and Mt. Saint Dishes, or tapping away on the laptop. Her husband puts up with her sometimes crazy "hippie" ways, but loves her regardless. Welcome to my home away from home.