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

Explore the charms and attractions of two intriguing Michigan zoos - the conservation and sustainability-focused John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids and the large, spacious DeYoung Family Zoo in Wallace.

Compare the accessibility, food and drink options, remarkable animal species, and overall visitor experience these establishments offer to provide a comprehensive guide for families, especially those with children and persons with disabilities.

Discover round-trip expenses, time required, and the unique features that set these zoos apart.

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

At A Glance

John Ball Zoo and DeYoung Family Zoo are both fantastic family-friendly attractions situated in the state of Michigan, USA.

However, these two zoos offer uniquely different experiences owing to their different focuses and species of animals.

The John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids is a 31-acre facility that emphasizes conservation and sustainability.

With 200 species of animals including notable ones like tigers, bears, penguins and lions, it is a real treat for animal lovers.

The zoo, which takes approximately 2 hours to navigate, is not only easily wheelchair accessible but also features numerous food and drink options.

On the other hand, the DeYoung Family Zoo in Wallace is much larger, covering 79 acres and home to around 450 animals including distinctive ones like tigers, sloths, bears and penguins.

This sprawling zoo describes itself as large and spacious, which is evident from a visit that could take between 2-3 hours.

While facing some tricky paths, it has made efforts to accommodate visitors with disabilities.

The DeYoung Family Zoo also allows visitors to bring their own refreshments, and like the John Ball Zoo, it does not provide access to public transport.

Despite their differences, both zoos offer free parking and disallow pets (with exceptions for service animals), adhering to similar policies.


John Ball Zoo and DeYoung Family Zoo, both located in Michigan, offer expansive spaces to explore a wide array of wildlife, albeit at different scales.

Spanning a considerable but relatively modest 31 acres, John Ball Zoo provides an environment where you can appreciate its 200 species of animals within a shorter span of roughly 2 hours.

On the other hand, the DeYoung Family Zoo, substantially larger with its 79 acres, houses a massive 450 animals.

This sizeable wildlife haven therefore won’t skimp on your adventure time either, with 2 to 3 hours on average required to soak in all the sights.

Therefore, if you’re a regular walker who loves spending a good chunk of your day surrounded by nature and critters, DeYoung may just be the ideal choice, while John Ball Zoo might be more suited to those on a tighter schedule.

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


When it comes to affordability, the DeYoung Family Zoo edges out the John Ball Zoo by a small margin.

An adult ticket at DeYoung Family Zoo costs $16, four dollars less than the $20 adult ticket at John Ball Zoo.

There is a smaller discrepancy in ticket prices for children, with DeYoung Family Zoo charging $14 per child compared to John Ball Zoo’s $15.

Concession tickets at the DeYoung Family Zoo are priced at $15 with military personnel gaining free access, whilst at John Ball Zoo a concession ticket is also priced at $15 without any specific discounts listed for military.

Both zoos allow children under the age of two to enter for free, making them both cost-effective options for families with younger toddlers.

However, the DeYoung Family Zoo is the more economical choice for an average family of four, charging a total of $60 compared to the John Ball Zoo’s total family price of $70.

The cost of an average family of 4 at John Ball Zoo is $70 compared to 60 at DeYoung Family Zoo.

Although both John Ball Zoo and DeYoung Family Zoo showcase a range of spectacular animals, including crowd favorites like tigers, bears, and penguins, their animal collections do contrast in variety and numbers.

The John Ball Zoo, known for its conservation and sustainability efforts, houses a notable 200 species of charismatic and exotic creatures.

On the other hand, DeYoung Family Zoo, widely recognized for its large and spacious habitats, accommodates 450 individual animals but doesn’t specify the number of distinct species.

In addition to the shared species, DeYoung distinguishes itself by featuring sloths in its menagerie, a unique addition not present in the John Ball Zoo’s offering.

Therefore, though the animals you can encounter in either place partly overlap, the DeYoung Family Zoo might offer more diverse individual encounters, while John Ball Zoo looks to impress with its array of different animal species. <div class=”overview” markdown=”1”id=”wyntk-deyoung-family-zoo”>

More About DeYoung Family Zoo

About DeYoung Family Zoo

Size (acres) 79
Time To Walk Around 2-3 Hours
Adult Price $16
Child Price $14
Infant Price Free Under 2 Years Old
Price For Family Of 4 $60
Parking Free
Number Of Animals 450
Can Bring Your Own Food? Yes

Information from https://thedeyoungfamilyzoo.com/



Both the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids and the DeYoung Family Zoo in Wallace, Michigan, are uniquely committed to offering accessible experiences for visitors with disabilities.

John Ball Zoo covers 31 acres and provides wheelchair accessibility alongside the added convenience of rentable equipment for visitors needing assistance.

Further easing mobility concerns is the fact that the zoo doesn’t allow access via public transport, which can be an added convenience for those transporting wheelchairs or other mobility equipment.

Compared to this, DeYoung Family zoo is a larger expanse at 79 acres.

It is also wheelchair accessible, yet it’s worth noting that some paths may be tricky to navigate.

Despite this minor drawback, it ensures ample space for those with mobility equipment.

Like John Ball, DeYoung Family Zoo doesn’t provide public transport access, offering more ease for disabled visitors transporting their equipment.

Both zoos strive towards providing enjoyable experiences for all visitors regardless of mobility, thus making them a desirable choice for families with disabled members.

Pefect For

Both John Ball Zoo and DeYoung Family Zoo cater well to family groups and offer good disability access.

The John Ball Zoo, with its commitment to conservation and sustainability, would suit families with both older children and toddlers.

Its food and drink options make it a good choice for a day trip, while its disability access - including rentable equipment - ensures it is accessible for everyone.

Conversely, the DeYoung Family Zoo, although larger and more spacious, may be a more suitable choice for families with older kids due to some of its pathways being tricky for wheelchairs.

However, it does provide an immersive nature experience worth exploring.

In conclusion, while both zoos have something unique to offer, the John Ball Zoo would be a more comfortable experience for families with toddlers, while the DeYoung Family Zoo offers a vast exploratory space for families with older kids.


In conclusion, both John Ball Zoo and DeYoung Family Zoo are remarkable places for family outings, educational experiences, and wildlife conservation.

While they both feature exciting animals like tigers, bears, and penguins, each zoo caters to different preferences and values.

At 31 acres, John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids excels in its emphasis on sustainability and conservation.

It is a perfect fit for families with children of all ages and people with disabilities catering to them with rentable equipment.

Although further from public transportation, its parking is ample and free.

However, it’s worth noting that a family trip would be slightly costlier at $70 for a family of four.

On the other hand, DeYoung Family Zoo, spanning an impressive 79 acres in Wallace, holds a greater variety of animals and offers a larger space for visitors to explore.

It is also wheelchair-accessible with some tricky paths and a great spot for families with older children.

Tickets for a family of four are slightly less costly at $60.

Regardless of size, cost, and animal variety, both zoos stand by a common cause of promoting wildlife conservation and offering memorable experiences for their visitors.

Ultimately, the decision between John Ball Zoo and DeYoung Family Zoo would depend on the specific needs and interests of the family or individual.

These Michigan-based zoos, each with their distinct qualities, undoubtedly offer enriching experiences that bring you closer to the wonders of the animal kingdom.

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