If you find yourself in or near SW Michigan, you really MUST make plans to visit the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, MI
This zoo is outside of the ordinary with it’s natural settings. We visit many zoos as we travel to new locations, but we’re always amazed at the beautiful scenery, natural settings, cleanliness and even friendliness of staff at this SW Michigan gem.
They are on the 50% reciprocal zoo list, so if you have a membership to your local zoo, check out the reciprocal list to see if they’re on the same plan.
There are two major “areas” to the zoo. This includes the section you enter upon arrival, and then the Wild Africa Safari section. To get to Wild Africa you’ll either hike 1/2 mile (mostly uphill) or take the tram ride. We typically take the tram ride as it’s easier with two kids, but this past visit was on a holiday weekend and the zoo was PACKED. The kids were not thrilled but we rewarded their trek with a trip to Dippin’ Dots as soon as we arrived in “Africa”
Shortly after leaving the village and heading on “safari”
you’ll run into the zoo’s main attraction.. one of the largest giraffe herds in the country (they aren’t always all out at once, depending on weather)
The zoo continues to expand year after year. They have been doing some major remodeling, reorganization over the past few years, leading up to the addition of a brand new lion exhibit in Wild Africa over the next year or two. While we were there we saw the area the lions will be placed. They’ve done some tree clearing in a “dead/dying” tree area where some oaks were hit with oak wilt. This cleared area will be renovated.
In the meantime, you can check out the new tortoise digs that went in last year. Originally the tortoise was in the main part of the zoo. They decided to move him into Africa and built a new enclosure. The awesome part of this zoo, is that they did not build him a “cage”. They simply used timbers strategically placed so that he could not fit through.
If you’re planning a visit this summer… note that almost none of their birds are on display this summer. They are in their indoor enclosures with no access. This is to prevent the spread of bird flu strain H5N2 from spreading to the zoo birds from wild birds flying through the area. They do have the macaw and some peacocks out, but the peacocks are caged with the macaw near the reptile building. Also, due to excessive rain, the nature walk loop is temporarily closed due to flooding.
If you wish to help with fundraising efforts for the lion exhibit.. they have a link set up. Click here to help.