W hether they’re furry, scaly or feathery, a trip to the Little Rock Zoo is the perfect chance to meet some unconventional Greater Little Rock natives. Some recent additions to its cast of characters have made the zoo an even bigger draw for grown-ups and kids alike.

Joining more than 200 other species, the zoo has been busy in recent years with the addition of a brand-new South African penguin exhibit and a mother-daughter pair of cheetahs.

The warm-climate penguins, a threatened species from Africa’s southwestern coast and islands, have settled into the Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe habitat, a world-class exhibit featuring a lifelike African beach complete with a heated pool and replica rock bluffs mimicking their African home and nesting area.

Visitors can watch the penguins from a graded, windowed viewing area offering a penguin’s-eye view along the shore and under the water. Children will especially enjoy watching penguins dive and swim from a just-for-kids crawl space. Zookeepers host live feeding shows daily, and occasionally, two of the penguins will travel to the zoo’s amphitheater for special programs.

The newest edition however, the Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost Exhibit is now home to 18-month-old cheetah Maggie and her mother Zazi. Overlooking the two cheetah roaming areas, visitors get a great view from the outpost area and its observation decks. In the air-conditioned portion inside, visitors will also find naked mole rats and African reptiles.

The zoo family continues to expand: in 2012, the city celebrated the zoo’s first penguin birth and welcomed a newborn gorilla.

Your Adventure Awaits

Penguin Pointe and the Cheetah Outpost are free with zoo admission, which is $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 1–12. There is a $2 parking fee per car. The zoo is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day; last admission is sold at 4 p.m. For more info, call (501) 661-7218 or visit LittleRockZoo.com.