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 Arkansas Zoological Foundation is a private 501 c (3) organization that raises funds for zoo development.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost opened on July 7, 2012.
The Arkansas Heritage Farm opened on April 2, 2016.
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 the major exhibits at the Little Rock Zoo.
- 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.
- 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 both sides. Outside of this exhibit, various primate islands can be found that are home to the ring-tailed lemur, black-and-white ruffed lemur, blue-eyed black lemur, Madagascar teal, black-handed spider monkey, siamang, and koi.
- 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.
- Primates, Reptiles, Birds & More - This mixed species building was built in 1936 and features many exotic animals from around the world, including ones from the primate, reptile, and bird families.
- Primate House - Callimico, douroucouli, Geoffrey's marmoset, Geoffroy's tamarin, Wied's marmoset, lesser spot-nosed guenon, pygmy slow loris, red-capped mangabey, Angolan talapoin, southern three-banded armadillo, tufted capuchin, two-toed sloth, and the white-faced saki.
- Reptile House
- Snakes - Black pine snake, Louisiana pine snake, northern pine snake, puff adder, eastern hognose snake, western hognose snake, southern copperhead, western pigmy rattlesnake, canebrake rattlesnake, eastern diamondback rattlesnake, western cottonmouth, Sonoran gopher snake, corn snake, mole snake, Asiatic rock python, green tree python, Savu python, Burmese python, Mexican burrowing python, eastern indigo snake, Sinaloan milk snake, eastern coachwhip, West African gaboon viper, rhinoceros viper, eyelash viper, Malayan pit viper, grey-banded kingsnake, red spitting cobra, Cape cobra, and Mexican cantil.
- Other reptiles - White line gecko, African fat-tailed gecko, leopard gecko, Standing's day gecko, Madagascar giant day gecko, tokay gecko, Nile monitor, crocodile monitor, Gila monster, eastern glass lizard, frilled lizard, Sudan plated lizard, blue spiny lizard, northern blue-tongued skink, broadhead skink, Solomon Islands skink, Great Plains skink, panther chameleon, green iguana, green crested basilisk, common snakeneck turtle, spiny softshell turtle, African spurred tortoise, alligator snapping turtle, and the American alligator.
- Amphibians - White's tree frog, axolotl, red eyed tree frog, Panamanian golden frog, blue poison dart frog, green and black poison dart frog, yellow and blue poison dart frog, yellow banded poison arrow frog, Oriental fire-bellied toad, giant marine toad, tiger salamander, western lesser siren.
- Invertebrates - Brazilian cockroach, Scolopendra heros, emperor scorpion, Lasiodora parahybana, giant African millipede, Aphonopelma seemanni, tailless whip scorpion, Vietnamese walking stick.
- Tropical Bird House - roseate spoonbill, scarlet ibis, black-naped fruit dove, grey peacock pheasant, southern crowned pigeon, Nicobar pigeon, helmeted guineafowl, Mandarin duck, ruddy shelduck,Madagascar teal, Marbled teal, Catalina Macaw and the green aracari.
- Asian Elephants - The elephant exhibit is home to the zoo's Asian elephants. The elephant exhibit 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 notable figures citing the majesty and importance of elephants.
- Arkansas Heritage Farm - This exhibit opened on April 2, 2016 and features the Arkansas' Diamond Express train as well as a chicken yard for the araucana, Barred Rock, silkie, Polish crested chicken, salmon faverolles chicken, red junglefowl, wild turkey, Toulouse goose, and the Sebastopol goose. The farm's barn houses the mammals of this exhibit. The zebu, donkey, and miniature horse are located on the left side of the barn and the pygmy goat, baby doll sheep, and barn owl are located on the right. This exhibit also has a black-tailed prairie dog habitat, a butterfly garden, and a viewing area for the common vampire bat, Aldabra giant tortoise, spur-thighed tortoise, and rabbit. This exhibit is located next to the waterfowl pond where the mallard duck, black-billed whistling duck, black-bellied whistling duck, radjah shelduck, paradise shelduck, bar headed goose, Canada goose, black swan, American white pelican, and Chilean flamingo can be found.
- Small Carnivores - This exhibit includes many exotic carnivorous animals found throughout the world. This exhibit features the red fox from North America, the serval and caracal from Africa, the fossa from Madagascar, the ocelot and capybara from South America, and the clouded leopard, Indian crested porcupine, and Reeve's muntjac from Asia. The three-toed box turtle and ornate box turtle can also be seen in the capybara enclosure.
- Bears - The North American river otter and the spotted-necked otter can be seen at the entrance. Some of the bears in this exhibit are from Asia like the sun bear and the sloth bear and are separated from visitors by moats. The main attraction is the grizzly bear enclosure which has a large glass viewing window in order for people to see the grizzlies up-close. The bush dog is located at the end of the exhibit.
- Africa - This exhibit features the eastern black rhinoceros and the dromedary camel. Alpaca can also be seen opposite the camel enclosure.
- African Savannah - This mixed species enclosure features the grey crowned crane, ostrich, and the Damara zebra.
- Big Cats - This exhibit opened on June 23, 1982 and features the African lion, the Malayan tiger, and the jaguar. The Asiatic black bear currently resides in the lion enclosure after hours.
- Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost - This exhibit was opened on July 7, 2012. This exhibit educates visitors about cheetah conservation efforts and African wildlife. Along with the cheetah, Kirk's dik-dik and the blue crane can be seen in front of the outpost. Inside the outpost, the naked mole rat, Angolan python, African Bullfrog, mole snake, Sudan plated lizard, African spurred tortoise, Standing's day gecko, and the African fat-tailed gecko can be seen. The crested porcupine can also be seen on a viewing platform outside of the outpost.
- Overlook Trail - On this walkway, the maned wolf, Somali wild ass, red river hog, yellow-backed duiker, giant anteater, white-handed gibbon, sarus crane, greater kudu, bald eagle, Harlan's hawk, and the common warthog can be seen.
The Little Rock Zoo participates in the AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP), and has contributed to the survival of many threatened and endangered species.
Zoo Master Plan
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.
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