Merry-Not-Scary Family Fun at ZooBoo

Looking for something fun to do with your family to get into the Halloween spirit? There’s still plenty of time to check out The Great ZooBoo at Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek! Today, Kari Parker, Binder Park Zoo’s marketing manager, fills us in on this family-friendly event and other happenings at the zoo this year.

Q: What is ZooBoo and who should attend ZooBoo?

A: The Great ZooBoo is a merry not scary Halloween event that has been ongoing and beloved by families and Zoo visitors for 26 years.  This ever popular trick-or-treating experience is a wonderful way for families to be immersed in a festive fall atmosphere, while creating memories with their children.  What better way to celebrate fall than meandering through the Zoos many trails of lighten jack-o-lanterns with crunchy leaves underfoot while sipping hot apple cider!  Weather depending, visitors will even get to see some of our more cold weather-hardy animals like the American black bear cubs that we rescued from Alaska this past summer or the graceful and endearing snow leopards among others.

Q: What’s the history of ZooBoo at Binder Park Zoo and how has it grown over the years?

A: Binder Park Zoo first opened in 1977 as a small children’s petting zoo. With great dreams and aspirations a team of dedicated volunteers and staff set out to mold and shape Binder Park Zoo into the leading cultural attraction it is known for today.  With the growth of the Zoo came new exhibits and events like The Great ZooBoo.  In 1987 the very first ZooBoo took place and remains much the same today, a merry-not-scary family Halloween event.  ZooBoo has been added to the must do list for families for years and continues to be a fall tradition that many look forward too.  Binder Park Zoo is a non profit so we rely on gate admissions and fundraising events like The Great ZooBoo to help feed and care for our animals.  The funds raised during ZooBoo allow us to feed and care for our animals all winter long.  There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes and even though we close for the winter we still have a group of dedicated fulltime zookeepers working around the clock to look after all of our animals.  When families come to The Great ZooBoo, not only are they spending time together and making memories, they are helping to instill a love for nature in their children and helping us to continue our many conservation efforts.

Q: What are some new attractions or activities at this year’s ZooBoo?

A: Halloween wouldn’t be complete without trick-or-treating, and The Great ZooBoo offers that and lots more!  The Miller Children’s Zoo is transformed from a petting zoo into the exciting BooVille Carnival where youngsters can enjoy the carnival atmosphere and play a variety of games to win fun prizes. The Binda Conservation Discovery Center will also be open, offering a place where children can view several small animal exhibits, participate in interactive activities, and take in the nightly entertainment venues. As always, there will be hayrides, train rides, and a festive fall atmosphere like none other!

Q: Are there other fun events or activities happening at Binder Park Zoo this fall?

A: During our winter months the Zoo is anything but still!  We offer a variety of educational opportunities for children like the popular Knee-High Naturalists, a program perfect for your pint-sized conservationist.  All of our education programs are designed with kids in mind and provide an outlet for little ones to express creativity, explore nature and wildlife, as well as to broaden their world of experiences.  As a leader in conservation education, approximately 75,000 children and adults received the benefits of the Zoo’s formal and informal education programs.  Our strongest educational efforts take place here at the Zoo through the roughly one third of a million people who visit each year.

In addition to off season education programs each year, the Zoo offers an event called Holiday Nights in December. This is a wonderful way to experience wintry evenings at Binder Park Zoo. Guests stroll along lighted paths and can view some of our weather-hardy animals on exhibit enjoying the winter season. These special evenings include carousel rides, special holiday activities, dinner with Santa and his animal friends, and story time with Mrs. Claus. Holiday Nights run each evening December 14-16 & December 20-23.

Q: What types of conservation programs is the Zoo currently involved it?

A: Binder Park Zoo is home to 38 endangered or threatened species and participates in 18 different Species Survival Plans (SSP) and 20 Population Management Plans (PMP).  Global conservation efforts take place at Binder Park Zoo in cooperation with organizations like the International Snow Leopard Trust and the Cheetah Conservation Fund, in Kenya Africa.  The Zoo also participates in local conservation restoration efforts as well like the Michigan Piping Plover Recovery Program, Karner Blue Butterfly conservation, Adopt and Beach and Highway programs and helped contribute to the success of the bald eagle’s comeback.

Q: Where can people go for more information?

A: For more information about Binder Park Zoo, visit or call the Zoo office at (269) 979-1351. To stay on top of all the latest Zoo news, find Binder Park Zoo on Facebook.

Kari Parker has been the Marketing Manager for Binder Park Zoo for a total of 8 years. She received her education at Western Michigan University where she earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree specializing in marketing.

Are you planning to attend ZooBoo at Binder Park Zoo? If you’re looking for something closer to home, here’s a list of several other Michigan zoos taking part in similar events:

For other ZooBoo and Halloween-themed events happening across the state, visit