Our network

Urban Wildlife

My Town GR West: John Ball Zoo prepares to open for the season

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- The snow piling up around Grand Rapids isn't stopping John Ball Zoo from opening for the season.

The zoo will welcome its first visitors of 2014 Saturday, March 1.  Crews spent much of Wednesday clearing out the snow that's filled the zoo this winter.  According to the John Ball Zoo Society's Facebook page, maintenance workers expected to haul approximately 100 loads of snow out of the zoo, using backhoes and dump trucks.

During the frigid temperatures, visitors are encouraged to warm up by visiting indoor exhibits including the Treasure of the Tropics, the aquarium, the chimpanzee indoor viewing area and the frogs display. Bears, snow leopards, mountain lions and otters will also be available for viewing outside.

John Ball Zoo ownership shift approved by county commissioners

John Ball Zoo ownership shift approved by county commissioners

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—John Ball Zoo is getting the green light for new ownership.

During their regular meeting Thursday, Kent County commissioners formally approved a plan to put a new nonprofit group in charge of the zoo.  The changes come after years of study.

Supporters say the ownership shift will give the zoo new opportunities, but a labor leader is concerned the new plan may deny veteran zoo employees some of the many hours of sick time they have accrued. A county leader said Thursday they have great confidence all zoo employees will be treated fairly. 

Blandford Nature Center no longer taking injured wildlife

Blandford Nature Center no longer taking injured wildlife

WALKER, Mich.--   Blandford Nature Center is no longer taking in injured wildlife.

Katie Van Doeselaar, office manager for Blandford Nature Center, says the board of directors decided the center’s rehabilitation program did not further the organizations’ mission.  Van Doeselaar says the program has also been consistently losing money over the past four years.  When one of the two wildlife staff members resigned to go back to school, Blandford’s board decided it was time to turn away wildlife rescues.

Van Doeselaar says the change is not permanent; the board will reassess the situation in the future.  In the meantime, Blandford encourages people with injured wildlife to contact any of the following rehabilitators in West Michigan:

Blandford Nature Center partners with school for new learning program

Blandford Nature Center partners with school for new learning program

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  – Blandford Nature Center is helping a group of Grand Rapids students overcome so-called Nature Deficit Disorder.

This is the first year the nature center is partnering with West Side Christian School to provide outdoor learning on the school’s grounds, located at 955 Westend Ave. NW.  Blandford staff will lead the three to four seasonal outdoor lessons, which will help the school in implementing its Next Generation Science Standards.

Blandford Nature Center hopes to expand the program to other schools in the future.  For more information, visit the organization’s website here.

Company transforms roof into wildlife habitat

Company transforms roof into wildlife habitat

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—A wildlife habitat is now gracing the roof of a Grand Rapids area home.

Tom Newhouse designed and built his home and design studio in 1978 as a solar, earth-sheltered, low energy place, complete with a green roof.  The project won a national design award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Environmental Protection Agency at the time.

Last year, when upgrades were needed for his roof, Newhouse found Advanced Green Architecture.  Workers with the Grand Rapids business replaced his aging roof with a new modular green roof system that supports wildlife. AGA reused existing plants from the original green roof and added more than 30 varieties of Michigan native plants.  Workers also planted wildflower seeds, added a small pond to attract birds, insects and frogs, and installed a walking path and seating area.

Zoo offers free admission to military and first responders for 9/11

Zoo offers free admission to military and first responders for 9/11

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—In honor of the sacrifices made by police and firefighters on September 11, John Ball Zoo is offering a deal for first responders and military personnel Wednesday.

According to the John Ball Zoo Society’s Facebook page, the zoo is waiving admission for active and retired rescuers and military members throughout the day.

Identification is required.  The offer is good for September 11 only.

Animals take over final Parkapalooza Park Party August 8

Animals take over final Parkapalooza Park Party August 8

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The final Parkapalooza Park Party is guaranteed to be wild.

Join the staff of East Grand Rapids Library at John Collins Park for the “Animal Extravaganza”, featuring wildlife from the John Ball Zoo, the Kalamazoo Nature Center and the Critter Barn of Zeeland.  Children of all ages are also invited to take part in crafts during this free event.

 The Animal Extravaganza runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, August 8.  John Collins Park is located at 650 Lakeside Dr. SE.