Which Is Best: Detroit Zoo Or John Ball Zoo. A Guide To Which Is The Best Zoo In Michigan, USA

Dive into the wild offerings of Michigan through a comparative journey of two of its beloved zoos; the expansive Detroit Zoo with its diverse collection of 245 species sprawling across 125 acres, and the cozy yet engaging John Ball Zoo, on its compact 31 acres housing 200 species.

Both dedicated to conservation and education, they provide unique encounters with awe-inspiring creatures from around the globe.

Comparing their accessibilities, amenities, and exclusive features, we'll help you decide which zoo best fits your adventurous expectations, whether you're a family with tots or with older kids, or simply a fan of our planet's fascinating fauna.

Which Is Best: Detroit Zoo Or John Ball Zoo. A Guide To Which Is The Best Zoo In Michigan, USA

At A Glance

The Detroit Zoo, located in Royal Oak, Michigan, offers an expansive and engaging family fun experience covering around 125 acres and housing about 245 species of animals.

Notable animals at the zoo span a wide range including tigers, giraffes, bears, penguins, lions, kangaroos, camels, zebras and more.

It takes on average 2-3 hours to explore, with tickets ranging from $14-$23 for adults and $12-$19 for children and concessions.

The zoo focuses heavily on conservation and education, and although it cannot be accessed by public transport, offers available parking at $8 per car.

On the other hand, the John Ball Zoo, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, emphasizes both conservation and sustainability while providing a variety of food and drink options.

The zoo spreads across 31 acres, homing around 200 species of animals such as tigers, bears, penguins, and lions.

It takes typically 2 hours to tour the whole zoo, with adult tickets costing $20 and children and concession tickets costing $15.

Interestingly, it offers inclusive disability access with rentable equipment.

It even tops its offerings with free parking, making it an affordable and accessible day out for families with both older children and toddlers.

Both zoos stress the importance of conservation and education, provide disability access and are catered towards families.

While they do not allow pets, service animals are legally permitted.

Lastly, while Detroit Zoo charges for parking, John Ball Zoo offers it for free.


Covering a sprawling 125 acres, the Detroit Zoo outranks the John Ball Zoo, which spans a comparatively modest 31 acres.

This variance in acreage influences the time required to view all attractions, with visitors needing approximately 2-3 hours at the Detroit Zoo as opposed to around 2 hours at the John Ball Zoo.

The Detroit Zoo’s larger size allows it to accommodate a wider array of species, boasting 245 species compared to John Ball Zoo’s 200 species.

In summary, while both zoos offer an abundance of sights to see and activities to enjoy, the Detroit Zoo’s significantly larger size provides visitors with a more extensive selection of wildlife to observe.

More About Detroit Zoo

About Detroit Zoo

Size (acres) 125
Time To Walk Around 2-3 Hours
Adult Price $14-23
Child Price $12-19
Infant Price Free Under 2 Years Old
Price For Family Of 4 $84
Parking $8
Number Of Animals 245 species
Can Bring Your Own Food? Yes

Information from https://detroitzoo.org/


When considering the prices of Detroit Zoo and John Ball Zoo, one can see that both offer affordable options for family outings.

The adult ticket price at Detroit Zoo ranges from $14 to $23, while at John Ball Zoo it is a flat rate of $20.

The child ticket price is slightly lower at John Ball Zoo ($15) compared to the range of $12 to $19 at Detroit Zoo.

However, both zoos offer free entry to children under the age of two.

As for concessions tickets, they are priced the same at both zoos ($12-19 at Detroit Zoo, $15 at John Ball Zoo).

A key savings point to note is the total cost for a family of four: it is a bit higher at Detroit Zoo at $84, but somewhat lower at John Ball Zoo at $70.

The cost of an average family of 4 at Detroit Zoo is $84 compared to 70 at John Ball Zoo.

Both Detroit Zoo and John Ball Zoo, located in Michigan, USA, provide a welcoming habitat for a variety of engaging animals, though there are differences in their respective offerings.

Detroit Zoo, with its 245 species, edges out John Ball’s 200 species in terms of biodiversity.

Both zoos are home to popular draws like tigers, bears, penguins, and lions.

Detroit Zoo, however, also features giraffes, kangaroos, camels, and zebras, adding more diversity to its already large expanse of creatures.

Each zoo offers a chance to view these majestic creatures, providing unique educational experiences while promoting their conservation efforts, however, Detroit Zoo presents a somewhat wider array of animal species for visitors to observe and learn from. <div class=”overview” markdown=”1”id=”wyntk-john-ball-zoo”>

More About John Ball Zoo

About John Ball Zoo

  • 1300 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504, United States
  • 16-336-4300
  • jbzoo.org

Size (acres) 31
Time To Walk Around 2 Hours
Adult Price $20
Child Price $15
Infant Price Free Under 2 Years Old
Price For Family Of 4 $70
Parking Free
Number Of Animals 200 species
Can Bring Your Own Food? Yes

Information from jbzoo.org



Both the Detroit Zoo and John Ball Zoo in the state of Michigan are designed to be accessible for visitors with disabilities, although the features vary slightly between the two.

The Detroit Zoo poses certain challenges because of hilly and sloped areas coupled with varying walkway surfaces such as paved, gravel and woodchipped.

However, the John Ball Zoo stands out as more wheelchair-friendly as it provides rentable equipment for disabled visitors, ensuring a more comprehensive level of accessibility.

It does not mention any specific challenges in the terrain for disabled visitors.

It’s worth noting that both zoos allow service animals, providing additional support for visitors who may need it.

Pefect For

Both the Detroit Zoo and the John Ball Zoo in Michigan offer a rich, educational, and family-friendly experience.

The Detroit Zoo, with its large 125 acres of space filled with 245 species including tigers, giraffes, and penguins among others, is especially suitable for families with older children who would relish the vast variety animals and the expansive walkways.

The Detroit Zoo also pays special attention to disability access, with paths that include paved, gravel, and wood-chipped surfaces.

On the other hand, the John Ball Zoo, although smaller with 31 acres and over 200 species, caters more widely to families.

It not only suits families with older children, but it is also a good fit for families with toddlers.

This is crucial as families with tiny tots can find it challenging to find engaging activities that their little ones can also participate in and enjoy.

Just like its Detroit counterpart, this zoo also ensures disability access with rentable equipment for a more convenient experience.

Hence, both these zoos offer a perfect blend of fun-filled learning and exploration for families.

Nonetheless, families with toddlers might favor the John Ball Zoo, while those with older children might find the Detroit Zoo more appealing.


In conclusion, both Detroit Zoo and John Ball Zoo offer distinct experiences yet hold true to the value of conservation, making both worthwhile visits.

Detroit Zoo, being larger in size and greater in diversity, provides a more intensive zoo experience with a variety of 245 species and notable animals like giraffes, kangaroos, zebras, and camels.

However, the average family might spend a bit more compared to visiting the John Ball Zoo.

Focused on sustainability, John Ball Zoo is smaller but equally fulfilling, boasting a variety of 200 species and the convenience of free parking.

The inclusion of food and drink options add to the overall experience.

Accessibility for individuals with disabilities remains a common strength in both zoos.

The choice between the two comes down to personal preference and logistics.

For those preferring a larger zoo with unique animals, Detroit Zoo would be the ideal choice, while John Ball Zoo offers a comprehensive experience with a focus on sustainability.

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