On World Lion Day, a look at LIONS PRIDE sculpture in War Memorial Park

 

Saturday, August 10, is World Lion Day.  In honor of that event, today features three of the newest sculptures in Little Rock.

Dedicated on June 26, the trio of leonine creatures are located in the new roundabout at Zoo Drive and Fair Park Boulevard in War Memorial Park.

Lions Pride consists of three sculptures.  Created by Darrell Davis, they are made of cast aluminum. These are likely the first sculptures in Little Rock made of cast aluminum.

One is of a male lion, while the other two depict female lions.  All three are posed in sitting positions atop rocks which were installed last month in the roundabout.

One of the large rocks weighs over 37,000 pounds while another weighs more than 35,000 pounds.  There are several other rocks in the formation which weigh more than a ton.  The rocks were donated by Granite Mountain Quarry.

The project was a partnership between Sculpture at the River Market, the Little Rock Zoo, the Little Rock Parks & Recreation Department, and the Little Rock Public Works Department.  A portion of the money donated for this project was a memorial to former Zoo Director Mike Blakely.

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Hiland Dairy Dollar Day at the Little Rock Zoo today!

Hiland TigerToday is the annual Hiland Dairy Dollar Day at the Little Rock Zoo. Admissions will be $1 all day long.

Guests can enjoy several special keeper chats and other activities that will go on throughout the day.  The Zoo’s Animal Ambassador Show at the Civitan Amphitheater will happen at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The Zoo will also add additional food vendors, security officers, and emergency medical technicians to ensure everyone has a fun and safe day.

Hiland Dairy is an annual sponsor of the Zoo and over the last five years has committed more than $250,000 to the Zoo in the form of cash sponsorships and in-kind product donations.  Formerly Coleman Dairy, Hiland Dairy is proud to sponsor the annual Dollar Day at the Zoo to bring family fun to all Arkansas families.

The Last admission to the Zoo is 4:00 p.m. and the Zoo will close at 5:00 p.m.  The Zoo will also sell Hiland products for only $1 including cold tea and other beverages.

“Hiland Dairy is excited to support one of the state’s largest family attractions, the Little Rock Zoo, and provide a fun day for the families of Arkansas,” said Walt Coleman of Hiland Dairy.

Little Rock Zoo Director Mike Blakely added that the Zoo is excited to host another Hiland Dairy Dollar Day and is looking forward to offering this special discount.

“It is only through the generous financial contribution of Hiland Dairy that the Little Rock Zoo is able to offer this special discount day to the public, and for that, we are very thankful. Hiland Dairy has a strong commitment to the Zoo and wants every Arkansan to experience this family attraction that provides engaging experiences to inspire people to value and conserve our natural world,” said Zoo Director Mike Blakely.

In addition to providing a sponsorship for the discount day, Hiland Dairy has also provide the Zoo with in-kind product donations for Café Africa and for special events at the Zoo, and has also provided free advertising opportunities for the Zoo on its milk cartons.  The annual sponsorship totals more than $50,000 and 2014 marks the fifth year in a row that Hiland Dairy has made this commitment.

Hiland Dairy Dollar Day will run all day on Saturday.  Gates will open at 9:00 a.m. and last admission will be at 4:00 p.m. with the Zoo closing to the public at 5:00 p.m.  The Animal Ambassador Stage will have two shows at 11:00 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. at the Civitan Amphitheater and other special programs are scheduled throughout the Zoo during the day.

The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things.  With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.  For more information, visit www.aza.org.

LR Zoo Welcomes 2 New Elephants – Sophie and Babe

Sophie and Babe CompressedThe Little Rock Zoo welcomed two new elephants, Sophie and Babe, who arrived this afternoon from the Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, Illinois.  The elephants traveled overnight and were unloaded safely into the elephant barn and are being closely tended to by Zoo staff as they make the adjustment to their new home.

“The Little Rock Zoo couldn’t be more excited to add Sophie and Babe to our Zoo family,” said Zoo Director Mike Blakely. “The Little Rock Zoo is committed to the highest standards in elephant care and conservation and specializes in handling geriatric female elephants. We are excited that Niabi Zoo has picked our Zoo as the new home for their elephants and we know our guests join Zoo staff in welcoming them to Little Rock.”

Sophie and Babe were transported by Feld Entertainment, Inc. and the Ringling Elephant Conservation Center who moved the elephants free of charge to both zoos.  Babe and Sophie are both former Ringling elephants and were donated to Niabi in 2000 and 2003, respectively.

“The Little Rock Zoo is grateful to Feld Entertainment for continuing to support our elephant program. We appreciate their commitment to elephant welfare and conservation,” said Blakely.

The Niabi Zoo announced recently that it would end its elephant program and look for a new home for Sophie, age 44, and Babe, age 38.  Niabi sought to find a new location for the elephants with a more temperate climate at a facility with staff trained in the care and management of aging female elephants. Niabi conducted a nation-wide search to relocate Sophie and Babe and hired elephant expert Alan Roocroft as a consultant to recommend a new home for Babe and Sophie.  

Roocroft visited the Little Rock Zoo to do an assessment of the elephant program and chose Little Rock as the best new home for the Niabi elephants stating in his report that the elephant staff at Little Rock had several years’ experience handling elephants and provides excellent care for its elephant, Zina, a 53-year-old elephant, who Roocroft says is in excellent health for her age.

Roocroft evaluated staff ability, the elephant facility, and the elephant health program at Little Rock to provide a recommendation to Niabi. The report was very complementary of Little Rock’s elephant program and even states, “A word of compliment to the elephant staff, you rarely see such a clean well organized facility where each tool has its place and where you could eat off the floor. Well done to them.”

The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things.  With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.  For more information, visit www.aza.org.

2011 a Record Year for Zoo Attendance

Over 300,000 people visited the LR Zoo in 2011, which was the highest attendance in over ten years.  Daily attendance was 286,815, which was a 16.7% increase over 2010.  When special events were factored in, the attendance figures rose to 307,437.

According to Zoo director Mike Blakely, “There’s no doubt that the public is very excited about the new penguin exhibit and that more people are returning to the Zoo to see the penguins,” he said. “The Zoo also features more daily activities and events such as the Wild Wonders Animal Show and animal encounters that give guests an up-close-and-personal learning experience with animals.”

Arts & Humanities Month: Boo at the Zoo!

Boo at the Zoo is the largest family Halloween festival in Arkansas.  Now in its 20th year, Boo at the Zoo has become a family tradition.  Boo at the Zoo features trick-or-treating in a safe environment along with several amenities and attractions including: a hay maze, carnival rides, fair-style food & other concessions, the haunted train, a haunted house for older kids, a costume contest, magic show, Ghost Roast s’mores area, Frankenstein’s Dance Party, and much, much more.

Boo opened this year on October 20 and continues through Halloween night from 6pm to 9pm.

The Little Rock Zoo began modestly in 1926, with just two animals — an abandoned timber wolf and a circus-trained brown bear. Today, under the leadership of Mike Blakely, the Zoo includes more than 725 animals representing 200+ species, many on the endangered list. A recent addition is the Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe exhibit.

In addition to the many animals, there is the opportunity to eat at Café Africa and ride on the Arkansas Carousel, a one-of-a-kind Over-the-Jumps antique carousel that is the only fully operational carousel of its kind in the world.