GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This weekend is your last chance to head over to John Ball Zoo before it closes for the season.
It will be roughly four months before guests can return to see their favorite animals on March 22, 2024.
But during that time when the gates are closed, what’s really going on inside the zoo? The answer may surprise you — but probably not.
Andy McIntyre, the chief operating officer at John Ball Zoo, stopped by the WOOD TV Live Desk Thursday and disclosed what the offseason looks like for the staff. In a surprising twist, not much changes.
“When the winter comes for us or that season when the guests aren’t coming through the front gate, the biggest change is really just that,” McIntyre said. “The animal team and the animals are still being cared for just like they are every day of the year. They’re just not seeing the guests that come by.”
McIntyre said that people are usually surprised by that response when he gets asked about the day-to-day operations of a zoo in the offseason.
“Someone will ask, ‘What, do you just kick your feet up and relax?’ And it’s like, anything but,” he said.
It’s business as usual for the animals and staff. McIntyre ensures that the animals are receiving the same amount of close care they would even with guests scattered throughout the zoo. The good news for the animals is that most of them have indoor enclosures to escape to when the weather becomes unbearable.
Even with the normal schedule, the zoo is also working on new ideas to bring guests in the new year. McIntyre said that there will be some very exciting ones announced in the near future.
The zoo will officially close Sunday night. Click here to plan out your final trip of the year.