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The John Ball Zoological Garden is owned and operated by the County of Kent. The John Ball Zoological Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation serving as a private support organization for the John Ball Zoo. The Zoo Society incorporated in 1950 and has been working in partnership with the Zoo since that time.
As of February 2013 the County and the Zoo Society are working together on a plan to unify the two operations under a single 501(c)(3) to manage the Zoo as one entity. The County of Kent would retain ownership and continue to provide a portion of the operational budget with the non-profit managing all day-to-day operations. This plan and transfer is expected to be completed sometime in 2013.