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The Four

John Ball Zoo: Bringing you to the Wild Side

“Most people are jealous… If they love animals” says Kasey Knepper, a zookeeper at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids. This is the reaction people have when she tells them her co-workers are animals and the zoo is her office!

The John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids is home to many exotic animals from all around the world. The zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Only 10% of zoos have this designation – with a primary focus on conservation and education.

“I remember thinking as a little kid – it would be cool to be a zookeeper but then immediately decided that was completely unrealistic and would never happen,” says Keith Sprague, a zookeeper for Tango and Tilly their new Toucans.

Keith Sprague knew that with a little bit of dedication and a love of animals he would take on the unfavorable chores in exchange for a job he loved. “It’s pretty much doing all the chores that I hated as a child. It’s a lot of dishes, a lot of window cleaning, a lot of cleaning up after an animals’ bathroom but it’s 100% worth it.”

Breakfast at the zoo is served on a massive scale and no one is counting calories—especially not the Amur Tigers. “We measure the tiger’s diets in pounds so depending on the time of year their appetite changes a bit and sometimes will increase or decrease their diet based on that” says Kasey Knepper, a zookeeper at the zoo.

When these zookeepers head home after a long day of work they are all feeling fulfilled. Kara Loney, the Animal Ambassador at the J.B. Zoo says, “Satisfied and I really truly mean that.”

If you are looking to take a day trip for the whole family,