Turns Out The Air Zoo’s Name Has Nothing To Do With Kalamazoo
Although it seems hard to believe, there's actually more than one Kalamazoo!
However, what makes Kalamazoo, Michigan, stand out from the rest is that we're the home of Gibson Guitars, Bell's Brewery, and we've even got a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum right in our own backyard.
Kalamazoo's Air Zoo has been voted "Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners" and "Best Place to Spend a Day with Your Family" for 3 years in a row.
Although we often refer to Kalamazoo as "The Zoo", would you be surprised to learn the Air Zoo's name actually has nothing to do with Kalamazoo itself?
Air Zoo Origins
Originally called the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, what we know today as the Air Zoo was founded in 1977 by WWII pilots Sue and Pete Parish. According to the website,
Over its 40-year history, the Air Zoo grew from a nine-plane hangar display to a stunning, world-class aerospace and science education center with over 100 rare aircraft and spacecraft, interactive exhibits, and cutting-edge educational programs for people of all ages.
Upon acquiring a Grumman Bearcat the pair decided to open a museum to share their love of aviation with the public. However, civilian visitors were quick to notice the unique animal-themed names given to many of the planes including "Wildcat, Hellcat, Bearcat, and Flying Tiger"-- just to name a few.
Thus, the name "Air Zoo" was born.
For those that have visited the Air Zoo, it's easy to draw comparisons to actual zoos with real animals. The way these historic planes are on display-- it's basically a zoo for airplanes!
Air Zoo Today
Today the Air Zoo is located next to the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport on Portage Road and is open 360+ days a year. In addition to being open to the public 7 days a week, the Air Zoo also hosts many special events like birthday parties, weddings, and even high school proms!
Find the Air Zoo's hours and rates here.