95.3 / 88.5 FM Grand Rapids and 95.3 FM Muskegon
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Binder Park Zoo: Dedicates New Overnight Tent Camp

A West Michigan zoo has officially dedicated its African-style camp for overnight visitors.  Battle Creek’s Binder Park Zoo opened its Joe and Clara Stewart African tented camp and Zamani school.  It’s set on an 18 acre savannah.  

“We’ve had people actually from Africa say this makes me homesick… so the Savannah that’s out in front of the tents is actually 15 acres, so it’s quite large.”

It’s touted as one of only a few zoo programs that offer this experience in the Midwest region. Jenny Barnett, Binder Park Zoo’s, director of wildlife conservation and education says there are eight tents that can sleep up to 8 in bunkbeds that line the African Savannah exhibit, adding the overnight experience is quite unique.

“They have some programs at night, night hikes,  the education staff does a lot of programs with them. Then in the morning they get to wake up and the zoo keepers come in early and they get to watch all the animals actually come out on Savannah.”

Barnett says the complex is part of a three million dollar capital campaign and is named after local philanthropists Joe and Clara Stewart.

“The Stewarts have always been interested in education. And he had visited and contributed to an actual Zamani school in South Africa so when he heard we were talking about doing this tented camp and putting a school in for kids in our area, he was thrilled and wanted to be a part of that.”

The center’s aim is to boost  African cultural and educational programming. Barnett says they’re already getting calls and she expects the camp experience to start in the Spring. 

“It’s going to be an awesome experience, feeling like they are on African safari.”

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.