22 Petting Zoos & Regular Zoos Kalamazoo Families Love

Binder Park Zoo

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

Kids and animals go hand-in-hand.

Spring, summer and fall are the perfect time to visit and learn more about our furry, scaly, or somewhere in-between friends. 

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.

Petting Zoo 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 like? How wet and dirty will the kids get?

Use this list to pack 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

Zoos & Petting Zoos Near Kalamazoo

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.

Binder Park Zoo

Binder Park Zoo

7400 Division Dr, Battle Creek, MI 49014
Open seasonally, May – October
Tickets start at $13.75

Must-Do Feed the giraffes and goats
Petting Zoo? Yes, they have a petting zoo
ZOO SIZE 433 acres
Number of Animals500
Highlights Zebra tram, Peacocks walking around the zoo, Dinosaur area

With animals spread over 433 acres, Binder Park Zoo is one of the bigger zoos in Michigan.

Wear your walking shoes when you visit; the exhibits here are spaced out and you’ll certainly get your steps in.

It 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 the lions.

Binder-Park-Zoo-feeding-the-girafes
You can feed the giraffes at Binder Park Zoo
Binder Park Zoo
photo: Binder Park Zoo

BJR Ranch

BJR Ranch

23469 Marcellus Hwy, Dowagiac, MI 49047
Open seasonally, July – September (Saturdays)
Tickets start at $5

Must-Do Take a wagon tour
Petting Zoo? Yes, there is a petting zoo
AnimalsSheep, chickens, pigs, goats, horses
Highlights U-pick flowers (additional fee)

Pick a bouquet of flowers and enjoy visiting with the animals at this family-owned farm. Take a tractor pulled wagon tour of the ranch and hear the historic story of Ransom Dopp and the lost gold.

The farm also offers private events and birthday parties.

photo: BJR Ranch
photo: BJR Ranch

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

8313 Pratt Lake SE Alto, MI 49032
Open seasonally, April – October
Tickets start at $12

Must-Do Feed the giraffes and camels
Petting Zoo? Yes, there is a petting zoo
ZOO SIZE 80 acres
Number of Animals1500 animals, 180 species
Highlights Unusual animals, easy to navigate

Boulder Ridge boasts a large collection of exotic animals with opportunities to feed several of them, like the giraffes and camels.

Bonus: This paved zoo is mostly flat and is stroller-friendly.

Petting Zoo

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

Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary

Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary

1698 M-66, Athens, MI 49011
Open seasonally, May – October
Tickets start at $10.95

Must-Do Animal Encounters
Petting Zoo? No
ZOO SIZE2.5 acres
Number of AnimalsHundreds of reptiles
Highlights ‘Godzilla’ – an 11-foot, 350 pound alligator

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

All animals are obtained through rescue, adoption or donation and will remain there for the rest of their lives.

Families visit alligator sanctuary

Critter Barn

Critter Barn

9275 Adams St, Zeeland, MI 49464
Open year-round
Tickets start at $5

Must-Do Hold a duck or rabbit in your lap
Petting Zoo? Yes
ZOO SIZE3 acres
Number of AnimalsOver 200 animals

This hands-on educational farm near Holland is home to over 200 animals, including pot-bellied pigs, horses, turkeys, donkeys, and ducks.

Free tours are available with Critter Crew youth volunteers.

The parking lot is small so arrive early or park in the street and walk up to the farm.

Girl at Petting Zoo Critter Barn

Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park

Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park

6255 N 1000 W, Shipshewana, IN 46565
Open seasonally, May – October
Tickets start at $8

Must-Do Horse-drawn wagon ride
Petting Zoo? Yes
Highlights Unusual animals, feed the monkeys

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.

You can walk through, drive through, or take a wagon ride through the farm.

Tip: Bring cash and wear shoes that can get dirty.

Gull Meadow Farms

Gull Meadow Farms

8544 Gull Rd, Richland, MI 49083
Open seasonally, late Summer – Fall
Tickets start at $10

Must-Do Feed the goats (bring quarters)
Petting Zoo? Yes, there is a petting zoo
ZOO SIZE80 acres
Highlights Fun family activities

In the Fall and select Summer days, Gull Meadow Farms features a petting zoo as part of their Back Forty exhibit. It includes alpacas, pigs, and over a dozen goats.

Other activities include a corn maze, wagon rides, pig races, u-pick apples, apple cannons, and a pumpkin patch.

Gull Meadow Farms is open for special events during the year. A fan favorite is the Walk through the Lights at Christmas.

Tip: Visit during the week or in the morning on weekends when its less crowded.

Petting Zoo
Boy Petting Zoo

John Ball Zoo

John Ball Zoo

1300 Fulton W, Grand Rapids, MI 49054
Open seasonally, March – November
Tickets start at $11

Must-Do Feed the budgies & ride camels
Petting Zoo? Yes, there is a petting zoo
ZOO SIZE 140 acres
Number of Animals2000 animals, 230 species
Highlights Zipline, Sky Trail Ropes Course, Funicular

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.

The zoo is known for special events, including Zoo Goes Boo and Illumizoo. Kids will also enjoy the play structures throughout the zoo.

John Ball Zoo Tiger
Penguin-Aquarium-Exhibit-John-Ball-Zoo

Kalamazoo Nature Center

Kalamazoo Nature Center

7000 N Westnedge Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Open year round
Tickets start at $3

Must-Do Visit Nature’s Playground & DeLano Farms
Petting Zoo? Yes, there is a petting zoo (Summer only)
ZOO SIZE 1,100 acres
Highlights 14 miles trails, animals in their habitats

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. 

The Nature’s Playground is a kid favorite. Explore natural play elements, find fish in the winding creek and play in the teepee. A towel and a change of clothes is helpful to have.

Kalamazoo-Nature-Center-Playground-natural-water-splash-pad-park

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

12685 E C Ave, Augusta, MI 49060
Open year round
Tickets start at $3

Must-Do Feed the waterfowl
Petting Zoo? No
ZOO SIZE 180 acres
Highlights Birds of Prey, Nature photo-ops

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. 

The Birds of Prey exhibit is home to a bald eagle, red-tailed hawk and different owl species. These birds are permanent residents of the sanctuary.

Tip: Paved trails make this destination very stroller-friendly.

Bird Sanctuary
kids feeding birds

MOO-ville Creamery

MOO-ville Creamery

5815 S M-66 Hwy, Nashville, MI 49073
Open year round, petting zoo open April – October
FREE

Must-Do Try the ‘Moo-valanche’ ice cream
Petting Zoo? Yes (April – October)
NUMBER OF ANIMALSOver 40 farm animals
Highlights Playground with giant sandbox, MOO-ville ice cream

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.

The petting zoo and kids play area has paved sidewalks making it stroller friendly.

Tip: Bring a cooler to transport ice cream home.

Boy with cow at Dairy Farm near Battle Creek

Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park Zoo

1301 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
Open year round
Tickets start at $5

Must-Do See Jaali, the black rhino
Petting Zoo? Yes
ZOO SIZE102 acres
NUMBER OF ANIMALSOver 500 animals, 160 species
Highlights Pony rides, playground

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.

Tip: bring cash to feed the birds.

Boy riding pony
Potter Park Zoo

Reindeer Ranch

Reindeer Ranch

2921 N 6th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Open seasonally
Tour tickets start at $10

Must-Do Guided reindeer tour
Petting Zoo? Yes
Highlights Take a selfie with a reindeer

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

petting zoo: Kalamazoo Reindeer

Watch their Facebook page in the spring for baby reindeer visits.

Places to see animals Kalamazoo

Scidmore Park Petting Zoo

Scidmore Park Petting Zoo

112 Spring St, Three Rivers, MI 48093
Petting Zoo open during Summer
FREE

Must-Do Visit the duck pond
Petting Zoo? Yes (Summer weekends only)
Highlights Farm themed playground

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).

Don’t miss the farm themed playground nearby.

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery

34270 County Road 652, Mattawan, MI 49071
Open seasonally, April – November
FREE

Must-Do Feed the fish (bring quarters)
Petting Zoo? No
HATCHERY SIZE78 acres
Highlights Free fishing lessons

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.

Fish Hatchery

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

No equipment needed for fishing lessons

Zoos Worth the Drive

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

Map

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