Battle Creek

Music Garden to debut at Binder Park Zoo this week

Binder Park Zoo’s newest exhibit will be music to the ears of its visitors.
On Sunday afternoon – Mother’s Day - the zoo’s Music Garden will officially open to the public during a brief ceremony that will include special guests, among them musicians with the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra who will perform highlights from “The Carnival of the Animals” by Charles-Camille Saint-Saens under the direction of Music Director Anne Harrigan.
In keeping with a long-standing tradition, mothers and grandmothers accompanied by their children or grandchildren will receive half-off admission to the zoo in honor of Mother’s Day.
The Music Garden, located in the East Zoo adjacent to the Z.O. & O train station near the lemur exhibit, will be an outdoor play space with permanent installations of brightly colored, botanical-themed musical instruments designed to encourage zoo guests, especially children, to explore the joy of making music, says Leslie Walsh, spokesperson for the zoo. 
“Whimsical percussion instruments in the shape of oversized butterflies, flowers, lily pads, and mushrooms provide the inspiration to express a simple tune or conduct a full concert at the zoo,” Walsh says. “It really grew out of the realization that we needed and would like to see a few more hands-on things here at the zoo between the exhibits. It will be nice for moms that have younger kids with them to be able to take a break between animal exhibits have a seat, have fun and be creative at same time.”
A moment with a giraffe at Binder Park Zoo. The Music Garden was funded through a generous gift from local residents Jet and Laura Perelli who wanted to blend the power of music with the natural world for a community in harmony, Walsh says.
“We are grateful for the generous support from the Perellis for this creative venture at the zoo,” says Diane Thompson, President & CEO of Binder Park Zoo. “The Music Garden will be a fun and entertaining opportunity that blends music with nature, one that will add a new dimension to the zoo experience. We are equally grateful to collaborate with, and are very honored to host the Battle Creek Symphony here at the zoo as part of the dedication celebration for this special venture.”
Now in its 45th season, the zoo has continually added new exhibits, including the opening in September of Zoorassic Park which features a herd of colorful, life-size dinosaur replicas, according to information on the zoo’s website.
Young People meet the birds at Summer Day Camp at Binder Park Zoo.Walsh says the addition of Zoorassic Park represents the ongoing evolution of the zoo.
“We’ll continue to evolve. We don’t want to stay static,” Walsh says. “We want to be dynamic whether it is the addition of animal exhibits in the last few years like our lions or the American Black Bear and wolf exhibits.”
The addition of these animal exhibits follows strict guidelines established by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Just like every zoo in the United States, Binder Park goes through an accreditation process every five years and has been continually accredited since 1983. Walsh says the “bar is always raised higher for animal care and animal welfare.”
The zoo will continue to evolve and change through its lineup of exhibits that feature animals and hands-on opportunities, Walsh says.
“Families have changed in the last 10 to 15 years. They carry cellphones everywhere they go and kids carry tablets,” she says. “We try to pay attention to the balance between in-person experiences and something fresh and new as well.”


Read more articles by Jane Simons.

Jane Simons is a freelance reporter and writer with more than 20 years of experience and also is the owner of In So Many Words based in Battle Creek. She is the Project Editor for On the Ground Battle Creek.