22 Petting Zoos & Regular Zoos Kalamazoo Families Love

Dad and son feeding giraff

Animal Encounters & Petting Zoos – Perfect for the Animal Lover in Your Family

Kids and animals go hand-in-hand.

Summer is the perfect time to visit and learn more about our furry, scaly, or somewhere in-between friends. Southwest Michigan is home to many amazing places to get up close and personal to a wide variety of animals at a petting zoo and beyond. We’ve also covered a few places worthy of a drive!

Calling all future veterinarians and animal lovers –  Read on to discover petting zoos, animal farms, sanctuaries, and zoos you’ll want to make sure and visit.

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John Ball Zoo

Take a day trip to John Ball Zoo! Visit meerkats, tigers, chimpanzees, penguins, red pandas, otters, and more. Plus, don’t miss BRICKLIVE Animal Paradise – featuring over 40 life-sized animal sculptures created with over 1.8 million individually colored toy building bricks!

John Ball Zoo

1300 Fulton St W
Grand Rapids, Michigan
49504
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(616) 336-4300

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Important Message: Area businesses are working to implement procedures based on the new safety guidelines. For each of the attractions and events we mention, we include a link to the business website. Please use this link to confirm the details, hours of operation and any requirements guests must follow before visiting. Thank You!

PACKING LIST

Spending more than an hour (or even 10 minutes) outside the home with kids means a lot of planning. What’s the weather going to be? How wet and dirty will the kids get?

We’ve put together a list of everything you may need for your best day ever at the petting zoo.

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Strollers/Wagons
  • Snacks/Water
  • Wipes/Sanitizer
  • Extra clothes
  • Diapers / Pull-Ups
  • Lunches
  • Hats / Sunglasses
  • Cash (including quarters) for extras, animal feed

VISIT ANIMALS NEAR KALAMAZOO

John Ball Zoo

1300 Fulton W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

John Ball Zoo is more than just animals. Visitors can also experience the zipline, feed the budgies, watch a bird show, ride a camel and climb across rope bridges and webs.

Recently renovated, John Ball Zoo is now handicapped-accessible with leveling out the rolling hills and creating gently sloping inclines.

Website | Facebook

JOHN BALL ZOO SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Feed the budgies & ride camels
Photo Op: Visit by Sept 7, 2020, to view Brick Live – a collection of giant LEGO® creations
Petting Zoo? Yes


Binder Park Zoo

7400 Division Dr, Battle Creek, MI 49014

Binder Park Zoo boasts a spectacular African Savannah, complete with zebras, lions, cheetahs, giraffes and over a dozen African wild dogs.

Other fan favorites include Raj the snow leopard, Tushar the red panda, and roaming peacocks.

Website | Facebook

BINDER PARK ZOO SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Feed the giraffes and goats
Photo Op: Black Bear Statue
Petting Zoo? Yes

Kids Feed giraffe at Binder Park Zoo

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

8313 Pratt Lake SE Alto, MI 49032

Boulder Ridge boasts a collection of over 150 species of exotic animals with opportunities to feed several of them.

The park also offers a free safari ride to visit emus, bison, water buffalo and zebras, among others.

Website | Facebook

BOULDER RIDGE WILD ANIMAL PARK SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Feed the giraffes and camels
Tip: The paved zoo is stroller friendly
Petting Zoo? Yes

Petting Zoo: Camels Zoo Kalamazoo

Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary

 1698 M-66, Athens, MI 49011

Critchlow is home to hundreds of animals including alligators, crocodiles, tree frogs and tortoises.

This sanctuary is a reptile rescue facility; all animals are obtained through rescue, adoption or donation and will remain there for the rest of their lives.

Website | Facebook

CRITCHLOW ALLIGATOR SANCTUARY SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Animal Encounters –  a one-on-one interaction with an alligator or snake.
Photo Op: Godzilla,” an 11-foot, 350 pound alligator
Petting Zoo? No

Families visit alligator sanctuary

Critter Barn

9275 Adams St, Zeeland, MI 49464

At this hands-on educational farm in Holland, you will find over 200 animals, including pot-bellied pigs, horses, turkeys, donkeys and ducks.

Free tours are available with Critter Crew youth volunteers.

Website | Facebook

CRITTER BARN SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Hold a duck or rabbit in your lap
Tip: The parking lot is small so arrive early or park in the street and walk up to the farm
Petting Zoo? Yes

Girl at Petting Zoo

Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park

6255 N 1000 W, Shipshewana, IN 46565

The farm features a wide array of domestic and exotic animals including zebras, reindeer and water buffalo.

Have you ever fed a monkey before? Dutch Creek features animals for both petting and feeding that families may not find elsewhere.

Website | Facebook

DUTCH CREEK FARM ANIMAL PARK SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Horse-drawn wagon ride 
Tips: Bring cash and wear shoes that can get dirty
Petting Zoo? Yes


Gull Meadow Farms

8544 Gull Rd, Richland, MI 49083

In the fall and select summer days, Gull Meadow Farms features a petting zoo as part of their Back Forty exhibit. It includes Shaggy the Scottish Highland Cow, alpacas, and over a dozen goats.

Website | Facebook

GULL MEADOW FARMS SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Feed the goats (bring quarters)
Tip: Visit in the morning on weekends (less crowded)
Petting Zoo? Yes

Petting Zoo

Kalamazoo Nature Center

7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Visit Lacey the Haflinger horse, Neo the pig, and all your farmyard favorites during the summer and weekends through September.

There are a variety of Family Programs that focus on animals – Creature Features, Farmyard Wednesdays and other opportunities. 

Website | Facebook

KALAMAZOO NATURE CENTER SPOTLIGHT

Must-See: DeLano Farms, features learning gardens and summertime farmyard animals.
Photo Op: Animals in their habitats
Petting Zoo? Yes


Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

12685 E C Ave, Augusta, MI 49060

Explore three miles of trails and experience a variety of habitats surrounding Wintergreen Lake, the heart of the Sanctuary grounds.  

Families will see a variety of birds including waterfowl (geese, ducks, swans), game birds, and raptors. 

Website | Facebook

KELLOGG BIRD SANCTUARY SPOTLIGHT

Must-Do: Feed the waterfowl
Tip: Paved trails are stroller-friendly
Petting Zoo? No

kids feeding birds

MOO-ville Creamery

5815 S M-66 Hwy, Nashville, MI 49073

MOO-ville is FREE to visit. Kids will enjoy the petting farm, farm toys, and a giant sandbox in the play yard.

Learn about the dairy process with a self-guided tour.

Pack a lunch or grab a bite from the cafe. Bring a cooler to transport ice cream home.

Website | Facebook

MOO-VILLE CREAMERY SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Homemade ice cream Moo-valanche
Tip: Special needs accessible
Petting Zoo? Yes

Boy with cow at Dairy Farm near Battle Creek

Potter Park Zoo

1301 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912

Potter Park Zoo is open year-round and offers discounted admission during winter months.

Kids enjoy riding the ponies and camels, visiting the petting zoo, and exploring the playground.

Favorite animals: tigers, rhinos, red pandas, otters

Website | Facebook

POTTER PARK ZOO SPOTLIGHT

Must-See: Jaali, the black rhino
Tip: Bring cash to feed the birds
Petting Zoo? Yes

Boy riding pony

Reindeer Ranch

2921 N 6th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Families will love to visit with reindeer and see the rest of the herd. Book tours (seasonally) online.

Winter tours include Santa on weekends; see the baby reindeer in the spring.

Website | Facebook

REINDEER RANCH SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Guided Reindeer Tour
Photo Op: Selfie with a reindeer
Petting Zoo? Yes

petting zoo: Kalamazoo Reindeer

Scidmore Park Petting Zoo

112 Spring St, Three Rivers, MI 49093

Make the short drive to Three Rivers to check out a whole menagerie of animals that love attention.

See llamas, python snakes, pot-bellied pigs. Don’t forget the rabbits and hedgehogs too. (Open on the weekends).

Website | Facebook

SCIDMORE PARK PETTING ZOO SPOTLIGHT

Don’t Miss: Nearby duck pond
Photo Op: Beautiful scenery along the trails
Petting Zoo? Yes


Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery

34270 County Road 652, Mattawan, MI 49071

This hatchery is home to lake sturgeon, Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, northern pike, northern muskellunge, walleye, largemouth bass and a variety of sunfish on over 78 acres of ponds.

They also offer FREE fishing lessons, scavenger hunts and preschool activities (verify events on Facebook).

Website | Facebook

WOLF LAKE STATE FISH HATCHERY SPOTLIGHT

Must-Try: Feed the fish (bring quarters)
Tip: Admission and hatchery tours are FREE
Petting Zoo? No

Fish Hatchery

Up for a family road trip? Plan your next trip to stop at one or more of these great zoos:

African Safari Wild Animal Park | 267 S Lightner Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452

Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square | 1730 S Washington Ave, Saginaw, MI 48061

Cincinnati Zoo | 3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, OH 45220

Detroit Zoo | 8450 W 10 Mile Rd, Royal Oak, MI 48067

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo | 3411 Sherman Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN 46808

Indianapolis Zoo | 1200 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46222

Potawatomi Zoo | 500 S Greenlawn Ave, South Bend, IN 46615

Toledo Zoo & Aquarium | 2 Hippo Way, Toledo, OH 43609

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