9 Reasons You Need a John Ball Zoo Membership

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Memberships Are Amazing Gifts

Every time Christmas or birthdays roll around, I face the inevitable questions about what my kids want. Luckily, I have family members who listen when I tell them to get us a membership instead of toys.

We have memberships to several different places around town, but one of my favorites is John Ball Zoo. In addition to free admission for a year, there are so many other perks to a zoo membership that its worth more than its weight in gold!

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Why Families Need a John Ball Zoo Membership

1. Kids LOVE It

Kids (and parents!) of all ages love going to the zoo! From little kids who just want to run from exhibit to exhibit to older kids who are eager to learn about the different animals, there is something for everyone to get excited about at the zoo. With a John Ball Zoo membership, you get free regular admission for one calendar year. (Zoo Goes Boo is not included, but members do get a discount on admission.)

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2. With Kids in Tow, Short Trips Are the Best

Sure, you can have a blast staying at the zoo from open to close, but that kind of day can be hard on parents and kids alike.

It’s easier if you can break your zoo trip into smaller chunks. In doing so, you’ll be rewarded with seeing different animals at different times of day.


Animals have different daily patterns. If you can show up at various times of day, you’re apt to discover animals doing things you haven’t seen. Additionally, you’ll be able to catch different animal feedings or keeper talks if you can return again and again.

3. Skip to the Front of the Line for Fast Entry

Zoo members do not have to stand in line at the gate. Just show your card at the gate and you’re golden! (I love walking past a line… somehow that makes me feel extra special.)

We love to go to the incredibly popular WGVU Kids’ Day every year so we can meet the PBS characters. As members, we get to by-pass that GIGANTIC line and walk right into the zoo!

John Ball Zoo JBZ Kids Map

4. You Get First Dibs on Zoo Camps and Classes

If you’ve tried to get into a zoo camp or class as a non-member, you know how tricky it can be. That’s because Zoo Camp is offered first to zoo members, and classes can sell out during this offering.

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If your child wants to participate in a specific camp or class, signing up for a John Ball Zoo membership is the way to go. Plus, you get a member discount on your camp registration!

Behind the Scenes VIP Experience
20 Things to do at John Ball Zoo

More Zoo Fun…

Be a Zookeeper for a Day
Camps & Classes for Kids
Membership Perks
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5.  Kids Love John Ball Zoo’s Quarterly Magazine

My co-worker, Erin, says that her kids LOVE it when the Zoo News Magazine comes in the mail every few months. They love to read about what is happening at the zoo, what events are coming up, and what is going on with their favorite animals.

While my kids don’t pour over our copy of the magazine, I do appreciate the updates on events and happenings as well as the beautiful photos included in their publication.

6. You Can Cash in on Reciprocal Membership Perks

Nowadays I get SO much use out of the reciprocals included with the membership. Potter Park Zoo in Lansing is free with your John Ball Zoo membership. Admission to Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek or the Detroit Zoo is 50% off with your card. PLUS the Sea Life Aquarium in Auburn Hills is 50% off with your membership card!

Binder Park Zoo Carousel Kids Activities
Binder Park Zoo

Additionally, you can use your JBZ membership to get into over 150 other zoos and aquariums (FREE or reduced admission) around the country. When our family goes on vacation every summer, I always consult this list and plan our route so that we can stop to visit some of these other places.

7. Discounts at the Zoo

Discounts abound for John Ball Zoo members, including:

  • Discounts on special events
  • Discounts on Birthday Parties
  • Discounts on Education Classes
  • 10% discount at Gifts of the Wild gift shop
  • 10% discount at concession stands
  • 10% discount on seasonal experiences such as the Zip Line, Ropes Course, Camel Rides

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8. Member Nights & Special Events

Member nights at John Ball Zoo are busy for a reason: they are very, very cool.

During member nights you get to see special animal trainings, keeper talks and other specials that aren’t part of a typical zoo visit.

9. Pays for Itself After Two Visits

For my family of five,  a John Ball Zoo membership pays for itself after only TWO visits. So, if you think your family would like to go to the zoo two or more times in a year, the membership makes a lot of financial sense.

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Are you a John Ball Zoo member? What perks do you love that we forgot to mention?


John Ball Zoo Membership

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