June 23, 2024

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — John Ball Zoo is closing its doors for the season to general visitors on Nov. 20, the zoo announced Friday.

Before closing for the season, guests can visit IllumiZoo on select nights through Nov. 13 and the Washed Ashore traveling art exhibition through Nov. 14.

“Throughout the winter season, John Ball Zoo will be working hard to care for our beloved animals, make updates to our world-class park and expand the Zoo’s ability to provide quality, engaging education opportunities on sustainability, animal care and conservation,” Peter D’Arienzo, CEO of John Ball Zoo, said in a press release.

The work includes preparing new animal exhibits, setting up the new Pygmy hippo exhibition that is scheduled to open in May 2023, the Eastern Box Turtles head-start program and improvements to the wildlife trail infrastructure. Staff will also be caring for the animals and helping with the conservation of wildlife and wild places.

“Even though we are closed to the general public, it does not mean that our commitment lets up. We remain dedicated to our animals, our community and conservation efforts to safeguard wildlife and wild places,” D’Arienzo said in a press release.

While the zoo is closed, it will be offering Behind the Scenes experiences, like helping a zookeeper train a Red Panda, touching a sea star and urchin in the aquarium, stepping into the brown bear habitat to feed them while they aren’t there and feeding the penguins. The zoo said it will also be offering private guided tours to some of the favorite areas in the zoo. For more information, contact the Education Department at 616.336.4302 or [email protected]

For anyone looking to get a membership, the zoo is offering a promotion for the 2023 season with a 10% discount from Nov. 19 through Dec. 12. To sign up, click here.

The zoo will reopen on March 24, 2023.

Editor’s note: John Ball Zoo initially told News 8 that IllumiZoo ended on Nov. 16. The zoo later corrected the date to Nov. 13.