Little Rock Zoo Loses Elephant Expansion Option

Little Rock Zoo, a measly 33 acres and bounded by urban land, recently lost its most viable option for expansion when the city decided to donate an empty stadium and its lot, not to the zoo as expected, but to the hospital.


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Little Rock Zoo is one of the few zoos in the country keeping elephants in their collections.  The land was to be used by the Zoo as an expansion to their current exhibit, in an effort to meet AZA requirements for keeping elephants. 

The requirements state that institutions holding elephants must keep at least three females in a group, and are recommending institutions have the ability to be used for breeding.  This means the Zoo would have to increase its size for at least one additional animal, as they currently have two females, and, if following the breeding route, would have to add space for at least one male.  All of this would also include increasing the safety and security of the current exhibit to bring it up to standards for housing bull elephants.  The Zoo estimated, rather loosely, that this project would cost between $10 and 20 million. 

One of the Zoo's two elephants.

Now that the stadium land option is gone, the Zoo intends to hear additional options for expansion, which includes crossing the highway passing along its southern border.  The future of the Little Rock Zoo remains to be seen, however, as pressure from the state capitol is pushing to move the zoo outside of the city proper, and the mayor is considering cutting the budget by $2 million. 

Here is a very good article about the history of the zoo, and its potential future.