Lions, Dinosaurs and Bears, Oh My! Binder Park Zoo Opens May 1, 2024

Binder Park Zoo

cover image: Binder Park Zoo

Binder Park Zoo is Over 400 Acres of WOW

As SWMI Michiganders, we are lucky to have so many spots locally to see animals: zoos, animal sanctuaries and petting zoos are all nearby.

As local favorite Binder Park Zoo preps for its 2024 season, and we have the scoop on the best exhibits, summer camps, special events and overnight activities to try.

Open since 1977, this 430-acre zoo in Michigan continues to add new exhibits and expand its activities for visitors. Their newest exhibit, SkyLark Ridge, opened in the fall of 2022.

Before you pack up the family to visit, use this guide to plan your next animal adventure:

Binder Park Zoo
photo: Binder Park Zoo

Where is Binder Park Zoo?

Binder Park Zoo is located in SWMI, in the city of Battle Creek Michigan. It’s about a thirty-minutes east of Kalamazoo or just over an hour southeast of Grand Rapids.

Binder Park Zoo Battle Creek MI

Is Binder Park Zoo Open all Year Round?

The zoo is open seasonally, from spring through fall. In 2024, Binder Park Zoo is open seven days a week starting May 1, 2024 through October 29, 2024.

Zoo Hours*
Weekdays (M-F): 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturdays: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sundays: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

*through Sept 4. During the fall, hours are 10 AM – 4 PM, daily.

How much does Binder Park Zoo cost?

Prices vary from $14.75 to $17.75 per day for visitors. Children under two are free, and military and AAA discounts are available.

Have a membership with another zoo? Your entry may be discounted. Check on AZA reciprocal agreements online or call ahead to confirm.

Parking at the zoo is FREE for members and $3 for ticketed guests.

SkyLark Ridge has separate pricing (see below).

2024 Admission Rates
Adults: $17.75
Seniors (65+): $15.75
Children (11-18): $17.75
Children (2-10): $14.75
Children (under 2): FREE
Binder Park Zoo Members: FREE (ID required)
John Ball Zoo Members: 50% discount (ID required)
Military: 50% discount (Military ID required)
AAA Member: 10% discount (ID required)

What to Pack

Before you head out to Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, we suggest bringing the following:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Stroller or Wagon
  • Cash (for giraffes)
  • Comfortable walking shoes

Binder Park Zoo Map

We recommend planning your zoo visit before heading out; this map is available to review online before your trip and is also available in Spanish:

PS: Did you see there are TWO gift shops at the zoo? There is one at the entrance/exit to the zoo, plus a second gift shop near the zebra tram in Wild Africa. Both offer a variety of toys, clothing and stuffed animals.

Reach New Heights with SkyLark Ridge at Binder Park Zoo

Recently opened in the fall of 2022, SkyLark Ridge offers a new ropes course experience for both adults (SkyLark Ridge) AND kids (Little Larks).

Our team member recently visited this new exciting attraction with her family. Here’s what you need to know:

Binder Park Zoo SkyLark Ridge
You’ll find 3 levels of obstacles and zip lines towering above you.

Where is SkyLark Ridge?

SkyLark Ridge is located across from the Binda Conservation Carousel before you reach the Wilderness Tram to Wild Africa in Binder Park Zoo.

When Can I Visit SkyLark Ridge?

SkyLark Ridge is only open for a portion of the zoo’s daily hours. This exhibit welcomes guests Wednesday through Sunday, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM (closed Monday and Tuesday).

How Much Does it Cost?

SkyLark RidgeLittle Larks
RequirementsOver 48 inches + under 300 lbsUnder 48 inches

What Can I Expect When We Get There?

The rules are posted as you enter and as you get harnessed.

The helpful attendants will go over everything again as you get ready to zip and climb. The number one rule is to HAVE FUN!

Tip: Wear closed-toed shoes and avoid loose clothing since you’ll be wearing a harness.

No sibling jealousy here! The Little Larks is just as fun as the SkyLark for taller siblings.
Know Before You Go: Little Larks
· A parent MUST stay within arms reach of the child while they’re climbing.
· You can wear a baby and still be able to help your child.
· There must be one adult for each child climbing.
· The attendant will place the harness on your child and review the rules with you.
· There is no time limit. Your kids can zoom around as many times as they’d like.
· Grownups, watch out for the kids sliding down the zipline while you’re standing with your child!
· Maximum height for Little Larks is 48 inches.
Know Before You Go: SkyLark Ridge
· Take advantage of the free lockers. You can’t bring anything with you on the track but you can wear sunglasses.
· Attendants will place the harness on you while you’re on the ramp after you pay.
· Another attendant will hook you to the track and review the rules.
· There is no time limit here either, but most people are done within an hour.
· SkyLark Ridge requirements: Over 48 inches tall and less than 300 pounds.

10 Things to Do at Binder Park Zoo

Every inch of this Battle Creek zoo offers an experience. Sloths, lions, bears, cheetahs, giraffes, and crested guineafowls are among the over 40 species here.

Here are our top 10 things to do during your visit to Binder Park Zoo:

1 – Visit Wild Africa

The Wild Africa exhibit in Binder Park Zoo is a massive, beautiful space and is home to many of our favorite animals.

If you’re visiting on a weekend or holiday, we recommend coming here FIRST and then visiting the rest of the zoo. The lines for the Wilderness Tram can fill quickly, leaving you to wait for the next one (or two) to arrive.

No detail is spared in Zuri National Park in Wild Africa. Here you’ll find safari jeeps, huts and other artifacts to add to your experience.

Binder Park Zoo

What is the Wilderness Tram? Can you Walk Instead?

The Wilderness Tram is like an open bus ride that transports you to Wild Africa. We recommend this route over walking if you’re visiting with kids. The walk is over a mile long with uneven terrain and can be difficult for little legs to manage. Rides are FREE.

The zebra striped tram is also wheelchair accessible. If you brought a stroller or wagon, a staff member will place them in an attached trailer. Be prepared to empty it and climb aboard with kids and your belongings.

Binder Park Zoo

Favorite Animals in Wild Africa

Reticulated Giraffes

Arguably the biggest highlight in Africa is Twiga Outlook, where you can feed the giraffes.

Romaine lettuce snacks are $2 per piece or $8 for five pieces. These beautiful animals are very friendly and will happily take as much lettuce as you offer.


Al the Aldabra Tortoise

At approximately 85 years young (we don’t know his exact birthdate), this giant tortoise is a local favorite at Binder Park Zoo. A Binder resident since 1984, this 600 pound gentle giant is usually found inside his habitat (there’s a large viewing window on his house).

Binder Park Zoo

African Lions & African Wild Dogs

Lions are relative newcomers to Binder Park, having opened their exhibit in July of 2017. Their exhibit is located next to the African wild dogs.

photo: Binder Park Zoo
photo: Binder Park Zoo


Cheetahs have a long history with Binder Park Zoo, dating back to 1988. Their current residents are sisters Katie, Madison, and Mohini who have been there since 2015.

Visitor Tip: The sisters are often spotted on the shady upper slope of the exhibit, so be sure to look up to see them!

Binder Park Zoo

The carousel at Binder Park Zoo includes 36 custom carved and painted animals for the zoo- some are even Wolverine or Spartan fans!

Rides are $3 (cash or card) and a fun break while exploring the zoo. Snacks are also available for purchase here (we recommend the giant pretzels).

photo: Binder Park Zoo

3 – See the Dinosaurs at Zoorasic Park

Zoorasic Park brings some prehistoric fun to Binder Park Zoo, featuring a variety of dinosaurs including Triceratops, Spinosaurus, Tyrannosaurs Rex and Stegosaurus.

There is no addtional fee to visit the dinosaurs; they are included with general admission to Binder Park.

This permanent exhibit opened in the fall of 2021, as part of Lowe’s 100 Hometowns projects.

4 – Ride the ZO&O Railroad

Take a 1.5-mile scenic ride on this vintage 1963 CP Huntington train, known as the ZO&O Railroad.

Visitors ride along in an open car pulled by a small locomotive as it takes you on a relaxing loop around part of the zoo. Rides are $3 per person.

photo: Binder Park Zoo

5 – Take a Photo with the Giant Bear Statue

You will find this massive bear at the entrance to the American Black Bear exhibit; this towering statue provides a perfect photo op for families.

Binder Park Zoo

After your Kodak moment, be sure to visit the bears. Binder Park Zoo has three siblings that were orphaned as cubs in Alaska: brothers Achak and Koko and their sister, Taima. The three are frequently seen wrestling with each other and splashing in their pool.

photo: Binder Park Zoo

6 – Visit the Snow Leopard Encounter

Binder Park Zoo is home to two snow leopards: Victoria and Raj. While Raj has lived at the zoo for many years, Victoria joined the Binder family in October of 2019 as part of the Species Survival Plan.

Snow leopards are naturally solitary animals, so the two animals take turns being on exhibit.

Raj is clearly a Michigander as he has been known to predict football games:

7 – Stay Hydrated During your Visit with Refill Stations

Binder has strategically placed water fountains/fill stations along all of their paths, keeping you fueled during your visit.

8 – Stay Overnight at the Zoo

Zoo overnights are offered for both groups (for scouts and other organized groups) and family overnight stays.

Each stay at the zoo includes an animal presentation, a night hike, themed activities and next-day admission.

Binder Park Zoo’s overnight stays are offered on Fridays and Saturdays.

photo: Binder Park Zoo
You’ll find these cabins in Wild Africa

9 – Attend a Summer Camp

Binder Park welcomes campers each summer to learn about animals, conservation and plant life at the zoo.

The 2024 summer camp runs Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for children entering first through seventh grades.

10 – Visit Special Events at the Zoo

The Cheetah Chase is back in 2024 on June 22. This popular event is expected to welcome 1,000 people to the zoo. Registration is open.

Another popular event for the 21 and up crowd (Corks and Kegs) returns in 2024 as well. Look for ticket sales to open in mid May.

For more special events at Binder Park Zoo, check their calendar:

More Must-See Animals

Binder Park Zoo is PACKED with amazing animals across its campus. Here are some more of our favorites:

Mexican Gray Wolves

A wolf family lives at Binder Park Zoo: dad Flynn, mom Izzy, and daughter Luchadora. The trio received a massive upgrade to their exhibit in 2021 with the opening of the Dr. Edward Drew & Dr. Pamela-Buitendorp-Drew Wolf Den.

This exhibit includes a massive outdoor fireplace and plenty of viewing spots, including a TV to see the wolves!

Binder Park Zoo has been working with Mexican gray wolves since 1992.

Where to Find This Exhibit: This new wolf den is near North America’s bald eagles and bears.

photo: Binder Park Zoo

Red Panda

The brand new Red Panda exhibit greets you right after you make it through the main entrance. You can also watch this exhibit on the PandaCam, a live zoo cam.

Tushar the Red Panda, a visitor favorite, still has his own exhibit across from SkyLark Ridge. You’ll normally find him resting on his log.

Binder Park Zoo

African Pygmy Goats

The goats at Binder always seem happy to have visitors. They’re hungry! You can feed them for only 50 cents.

Where to Find This Exhibit: Find the goats by the new entrance, right by the prairie dogs and carousel.

Binder Park Zoo Memberships

If you become a zoo regular (and who wouldn’t?), consider purchasing an annual membership. A membership with the zoo provides free admission for a year, plus reciprocal discounts at other zoos.

Binder Park Zoo is also a participating member of the Southwest Michigan Cultural Exchange. During the entire month of October, zoo members can visit five other cultural institutions for free.

SWMI Cultural Exchange
SWMI Cultural Exchange Participants

Are you Headed to Binder Park Zoo this Year?

Which animals are your favorite to visit? Leave us a comment and let us know!

More Zoos in Michigan

The mitten offers many places to visit furry, scaly or feathery friends. After visiting Binder Park Zoo, add these to your list:

John Ball Zoo

1300 Fulton Street W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Detroit Zoo

8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067

Potter Park Zoo

1301 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

More to Explore