When the Little Rock Zoo began in 1926, the facility was home to just two animals, an abandoned timber wolf and a circus-trained bear. Now, 94 years later, the Zoo cares for 500 animals and welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests every year.
Aside from being one of the top tourist attractions in the state, the Little Rock Zoo is committed to wildlife conservation and education. The Zoo is the only facility of its kind in Arkansas to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and many animals at the Zoo are threatened or endangered. The staff is also engaged in saving animals in the wild.
“Last year, our Zoo Foundation sent two staff members to South Africa to work with the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds,” says Zoo Director Susan Altrui. “There, they raised penguin chicks, helped with veterinary procedures and helped to rerelease penguins back into the wild.”
Altrui has been with the Zoo since 2005 and is dedicated to providing a fun, educational experience for visitors. Although this year has been difficult for the Zoo, Altrui is proud of the safe activities she and her staff have organized for the public, like the Shadows at Sixth Halloween experience in downtown Little Rock.
“I’m passionate about the Zoo’s mission to inspire people to value and conserve our natural world and that’s why I’m so eager to get up every morning and get to work,” Altrui says. “I love serving the families in our community, and I’m glad we can provide a safe place for them to enjoy with one another.”