25 Petting Zoos, Zoos + Animal Sanctuaries Kalamazoo Families Love

Binder Park Zoo petting zoo

cover image: Binder Park Zoo

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

Animal visits on our top things to do in SWMI and its no wonder why: 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

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, SkyLark Ridge, Dinosaur area, Africa

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
Binder Park Zoo SkyLark Ridge
SkyLark Ridge
Binder Park Zoo
7400 Division Dr, Battle Creek, MI 49014
Open seasonally, May – October
Tickets start at $14.75

PLAN YOUR VISIT

BJR Ranch

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, shop the market 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.

bjr ranch petting farm
photo: BJR Ranch
photo: BJR Ranch
BJR Ranch
23469 Marcellus Hwy, Dowagiac, MI 49047
Open daily June – October
Tickets start at $5

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

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.

VIP Animal Encounters are available early in the season for the rhinos, hippos and penguins. Children must be 6 or older.

Photo: Boulder Ridge
Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park
8313 Pratt Lake SE Alto, MI 49032
Open seasonally, May – October (Dates Vary)
Tickets start at $14

PLAN YOUR VISIT➙

Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary

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
You can toss food into their enclosures.
Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary
Animal Encounter with the tortoises.
Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary
1698 M-66, Athens, MI 49011
Open seasonally, May – October
Tickets start at $11.95

PLAN YOUR VISIT➙

Critter Barn

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, donkeys, and ducks.

Free tours are available with Critter Crew youth volunteers.

Girl at Petting Zoo Critter Barn

Early in April, attend the Spring Fling to meet the chicks, lambs, bunnies, kids and calves.

Photo: Critter Barn
Critter Barn
2950 80th Ave, Zeeland, MI 49464
Open year-round
Tickets start at $6

Deer Tracks Junction

Must-Do See baby bears and hold small animals
Petting Zoo? Yes, bring extra money to feed animals
Highlights Several huge play structures, drive thru safari

At Deer Tracks Junction families can get up-close and personal with goats, pigs, mini donkeys, mini cows, camels, and many kinds of babies animals, just to name a few. Love on the animals and feed them a snack or two (purchased at the park).

Deer Tracks Junction Petting Zoo

When taking a break from visiting the animals, explore one of the huge, Award-Winning play structures that are up to three stories tall and have underground play tunnels. Or enjoy some homemade ice cream.

Take a trip on Michigan’s only drive thru safari, wind down the trails while feeding all kinds of animals like llamas, bison, Tibetan yaks, and more. (Additional fee.)

Deer Tracks Junction Site 57 Safari Petting Zoo Drive Thru
Deer Tracks Junction
7850 14 Mile Road NE, Cedar Springs, MI 49319
Memorial Day Weekend – October
$14 per person for Adventure Park

Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park

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.

Trips less than 2 hours from Kalamazoo
Photo: Visit Shipshewana
Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park
6255 N 1000 W, Shipshewana, IN 46565
Open seasonally, May – October
Tickets start at $8

Fellinlove Farm

Must-Do Feed the pig, visit mini animal pasture
Petting Zoo? Yes
FARM SIZE11 1/4 acres
Highlights Trail walks, outdoor education, special events

Fellinlove Farms is a nonprofit organization which strives to provide guests of all ages and abilities with dynamic, hands-on experiences with diverse animals.

Fellinlove Farms Petting Zoo Mini

Families love to explore the nature trail and pond activities, such as pedal boats, kayaks, and swimming. Create in the sand table, play on the basketball court and explore other toys and games.

The Farm also host special events and parties, Yoga with Goats, and field trips.

Fellinlove Farms Petting Zoo Unicorn
Fellinlove Farm
6364 144th Ave, Holland, MI 49423
Open year round, Monday through Saturday
Visits must be scheduled
$5 minimum donation requested

Gull Meadow Farms

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
Gull Meadow Farms
8544 Gull Rd, Richland, MI 49083
Open seasonally, late Summer – Fall
Tickets start at $4.99

PLAN YOUR VISIT➙

John Ball Zoo

Must-Do Feed the budgies & ride camels. Visit koalas through Labor Day.
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, Lantern Festival

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 the *NEW* Lantern Festival, 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
John Ball Zoo
1300 Fulton W, Grand Rapids, MI 49054
Open seasonally, March – November
Tickets start at $12

PLAN YOUR VISIT➙

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

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.

Buy a bucket of feed at the ticket window for the waterfowl.

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

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary Zoos Farms
kids feeding birds
Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
12685 E C Ave, Augusta, MI 49060
Open year round
Tickets start at $3

MOO-ville Creamery

Must-Do Try the ‘Moo-valanche’ ice cream
Petting Zoo? Yes (April – October)
NUMBER OF ANIMALSOver 40 different 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
MOO-ville Creamery
5875 S M-66 Hwy, Nashville, MI 49073
Open year round, petting zoo open April – October
FREE

Potter Park Zoo

Must-Do See the black rhino
Petting Zoo? Yes
NUMBER OF ANIMALSOver 350 animals, 160 species
Highlights Playground

Potter Park Zoo is open year-round and offers discounted admission during winter months. Kids enjoy riding camels, visiting the petting zoo, and exploring the playground.

Tip: bring cash to feed the birds.

Potter Park Zoo Black Rhino
Potter Park Zoo

Potter Park Zoo provides a safe and healthy environment for the farm animals in the petting zoo.

Photo: Potter Park Zoo
Potter Park Zoo
1301 S Pennsylvania Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
Open year round
Tickets start at $5

PLAN YOUR VISIT➙

Reindeer Ranch

Must-Do Guided reindeer tour
Petting Zoo? Yes
Highlights Take a photo 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 late spring for baby reindeer visits.

Places to see animals Kalamazoo
Reindeer Ranch
2921 N 6th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Open seasonally
Tour tickets start at $10

Scidmore Park Petting Zoo

Must-Do Visit the duck pond
Petting Zoo? Yes, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 11-3
Highlights farm-themed playground nearby

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. Visit their Facebook page for updates.

Three Rivers Park Playground
photo: City of Three Rivers

Don’t miss the farm themed playground nearby.

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

Washington Park Zoo

Must-Do Feed the goats (bring quarters)
Petting Zoo? Yes
NUMBER OF ANIMALSOver 90 species
Highlights Capybara, wolves, zebras

Located in Michigan City IN, Washington Park Zoo spans 15 acres, making it a perfect visit with kids for all ages. You can visit 90+ species and still have time to hit the beach in the same day!

Lake Michigan is only a short walk away from this zoo; the zoo shares a parking lot with Washington Park Beach.

Michigan City IN
Michigan City IN
Washington Park Zoo
115 Lakeshore Dr, Michigan City IN 46360
Open seasonally, April – October
Tickets start at $8 plus parking fee during beach season

PLAN YOUR VISIT➙

Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery

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).

Dinosaur Park Western Michigan University
No equipment is needed for fishing lessons
Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery
34270 County Road 652, Mattawan, MI 49071
Open seasonally, April – November
FREE

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

Polk Penguin Conservation Center

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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