Tiger exhibit at John Ball Zoo boosts attendance

A male tiger at John Ball Zoo plays with a ball in the snow. (Nov. 20, 2014)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Since the “Tigers of the Realm” exhibit at John Ball Zoo opened back in June, zoo officials say they saw a spike in attendance.

The tigers were moved to the zoo back in May of this year.

“It’s a similar area that you’d find them in from a climate and forest perspective and guests loved it,” said Andy McIntyre, the Director of Education and Animal programs at John Ball Zoo.

McIntyre told 24 Hour News 8 that the new exhibit boosted their attendance as well.

“This year, we had 10 percent more people than last year. We really had 20 percent more than over previous years. We’re setting records each year so far and this year is definitely one of those,” McIntyre said.

A male tiger sits in the snow at the John Ball Zoo.
(A male tiger sits in the snow at the John Ball Zoo)

The zoo’s biggest challenge with opening the exhibit was having enough time to complete it and acclimate the animals to their new home.

“In designing this habitat in general, there were things that we had to deal with that most people don’t think about when designing exhibits in terms of how far the trees are from the edges of the habitat and making our footprint on the land as light as possible,” said McIntyre.

In the spring, the River Realm Habitat will open.

“We’re going to open the trail system and that River Realm Habitat so hopefully, as a visitor, you’ll get a chance to come back and see them in the water and on the river like you would in the wild,” McIntyre told 24 Hour News 8.

Officials said it is the latest stride in an effort to provide a unique experience for all visitors.

“It sort of refreshes people to know that we’re constantly updating our own facility, creating new experiences for them, creating better habitats for the animals and better experiences for everybody,” said McIntyre.

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Online: John Ball Zoo

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