Little Rock Zoo

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Little Rock Zoo
Date opened 1926
Location Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Coordinates 34°44′47″N 92°19′56″W / 34.7464°N 92.3321°W / 34.7464; -92.3321Coordinates: 34°44′47″N 92°19′56″W / 34.7464°N 92.3321°W / 34.7464; -92.3321
Land area 33 acres (13 ha)
Number of animals 725 [1]
Number of species 200 [1]
Memberships AZA[2]

The Little Rock Zoo was founded in 1926 and is located in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States. It is home to more than 725 animals representing over 200 species, and covers an area of 33 acres (13 ha). The zoo is split into four zones, North, South, East, and West.

The Arkansas Zoological Foundation is a private 501 c (3) organization that raises funds for zoo development.[1]

The Little Rock Zoo is a department of the city of Little Rock. It is the largest zoo in Arkansas, and the only Arkansas zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).[1]


The Little Rock Zoo was started in 1926 with only two animals: an abandoned timber wolf and a circus-trained bear. Over the years it has grown to include 725 animals representing more than 200 species.[1]

The first buildings at the zoo were made of local stone and built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). These buildings were built in the 1930s and were home to primates, reptiles, birds, and big cats. They are still in use, and the cat house was renovated into a restaurant with the feel of an African style lodge.[1]

The big cat exhibit was built in the 1980s along with other exhibits for great apes, crocodiles, alligators, sloth bears, and river otters. Lemur island opened in the 1990s, and an African Lion Exhibit was also added at this time, as well as the Civitan Pavilion for special events and the Civitan Amphitheater for educational programming.[1]

The zoo acquired a children’s farm with an interactive contact yard and train station. In 2001 the board of directors approved a new Zoo Master Plan, which included a new African Veldt Exhibit.

The newly restored Over the Jumps carousel, a fully restored antique carousel, made its home at the Little Rock Zoo in the October 2007.

An African penguin exhibit, Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe, opened on March 5, 2011.

The zoo lost Mary the elephant to abdominal cancer on May 5, 2011.

The zoo acquired two elephants, Jewell and Zina, from the Ringling Brothers Center for Elephant Conservation on June 8, 2011, to be companions to Ellen, an elephant living at the Little Rock Zoo since 1954.

The zoo lost Ellen the elephant to a heart attack on July 5, 2011.

The Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost opened on July 7, 2012.


The zoo is home to many animals and most of them are spread out throughout the zoo into different areas according to their environment, species, or diet. These exhibits are made to fit the animal's needs and mimic their surrounding environment as effectively as possible to ensure that the animal is comfortable and not stressed in its new home.

This list includes some of the major exhibits at the Little Rock Zoo.

North Zone[edit]

  • Big Cats - This exhibit opened on June 23, 1982 and includes some of the largest predatory felines. The African lion enclosure has a viewing window to see the lions up close. The Malayan tiger enclosure has a water pool that the tigers swim in and the jaguar enclosure has optimal aerial viewing of the jaguars.[3]
  • Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost - This exhibit hosts some of the fastest animals on our planet. The cheetah exhibit not only gives guests a birds-eye view of these beautiful spotted animals, but also educates them about how the cheetah population is being conserved in the African savanna through the efforts of the local people. The exhibit was opened on July 7, 2012.

South Zone[edit]

  • Elephant Barn - The Elephant Barn is home to Jewell and Zina the zoo's Asian elephants. The Elephant Barn is extremely large in order to house these gigantic animals. The elephants also have a large stretch of yard to walk around in outside. There is a large viewing window for the visitors in the front and large banners on the sides that have famous quotes from historic figures citing the majesty and importance of elephants.[4]

East Zone[edit]

  • Great Apes - The exhibit features a walkway that is suspended above the ape's enclosure. The ground is covered in grass and includes trees and rope for the apes to climb. Western Lowland Gorilla can be seen on one side of the walkway and Common Chimpanzee and Bornean Orangutan can be seen on the either.[5]
  • Lorikeet Landing - This exhibit houses the rainbow lorikeet. Visitors have the chance to see and feed these birds up close. They are enclosed in a large building surrounded by netting.[5]
  • Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe - This exhibit opened on March 5, 2011 and houses the African penguin. It mimics an African shoreline, specifically Boulders Beach, with viewing of the penguins both above and below the water. All along the exhibit are signs that educate the public about the lives, habits, and characteristics of penguins.[5]

West Zone[edit]

Giraffes at the Little Rock Zoo


The Little Rock Zoo participates in the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP), and has contributed to the survival of many threatened and endangered species.[7]

Zoo Master Plan[edit]

The Little Rock Zoo intends to create a zoogeographic zoo to help the public learn about the habitats and create a more natural zoo for the animals. The included renovations and additions include an Arkansas Farmstead exhibit with native species and information on the importance of agriculture to the state, the continent of Asia, which will be located where the Greats Apes exhibit is at present, with a larger elephant exhibit, orangutans, blackbuck antelope, Sarus cranes, and other Asian species, the continent of Africa with a new giraffe barn, the African Veldt mixed species exhibit, a new cheetah habitat, the African forest area, and the African Outpost, a new entry complex located north of Zoo Drive complete with a new restaurant, carnival style rides, and an ice cream parlor and a New Discovery Center education center with new rooms, exhibits, and education animals.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "History". Little Rock Zoo. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "North Zoo Zone". Little Rock Zoo. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "South Zoo Zone". Little Rock Zoo. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "East Zoo Zone". Little Rock Zoo. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c "West Zoo Zone". Little Rock Zoo. Retrieved 19 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "Species Survival Plan". Little Rock Zoo. Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Zoo Masterplan". Arkansas Zoological Foundation. Retrieved 26 December 2010. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Little Rock Zoo at Wikimedia Commons