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If you are a member of the media and would like more information about the Little Rock Zoo, the Arkansas Zoological Foundation or the exciting new things happening at the Little Rock Zoo, please call our main line at 501.661.7200 and ask for our press department to register your contact information for media updates. The Little Rock Zoo sends up-to-date press releases and announcements on a regular basis. There’s always something new and exciting at the Zoo!

Zoo Breaks Ground on Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe Exhibit

LITTLE ROCK (October 7, 2008) – The Arkansas Zoological Foundation and the Little Rock Zoo broke ground today on the Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe exhibit at a ceremony Tuesday morning.

“This is an exciting time for the Little Rock Zoo and we are just thrilled to start construction on the Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe exhibit,” said Zoo Director Mike Blakely.

The ceremony began with words from George Mallory, Chairman of the Zoo Board of Governs.  Mallory was followed by Arkansas Zoological Foundation Chairman, Debra Miller, City Director Brad Cazort, Mayor Mark Stodola, and Mark Nichols, executive director of the Laura P. Nichols Penguin exhibit who gave more than $600,000 to the Arkansas Zoological Foundation for the naming rights of the exhibit.

“It is with great pleasure that I am here to announce the start of construction for the Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe African Penguin Exhibit.  My family and I couldn’t be more excited about this wonderful day.  My aunt, Laura P. Nichols, a true animal lover, would have been honored to be here for this special occasion.” 

After remarks were made an official groundbreaking was conducted by Jackie, and African Penguin from the Fort Worth Zoo, First Lady Ginger Beebe, Mark Robertson of MESA Landscape Architects, Jeremy Hyde of Hydco Inc., Mike Blakely, Director of the Little Rock Zoo, George Mallory, chairman of the Zoo Board of Governors, Mark Nichols, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, City Director Brad Cazort, and Arkansas Zoological Foundation Chairman Debra Miller.  

The Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe exhibit is set to open in the spring of 2010 and will feature both underwater and above water viewing.  This one-of-a-kind exhibit will be one of the only exhibits in the country styled to mimic an African beach shoreline.

The exhibit will start with at least eight penguins who will be allowed to breed.  Several penguins have already been named by “Penguin Parent” donors who gave $25,000 to the Arkansas Zoological Foundation.  Penguin parents include:  The Coulson Oil Foundation, the Fiori Family Charitable Trust, the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Arkansas Zoological Foundation for Blair Allen, Routh Wrecker Service, and the Laura P. Nichols Foundation for Laura Nichols.

Naming opportunities and other donor opportunities are still available.  Please contact Susan Altrui at (501) 661-7208 or email for more information. 

The groundbreaking ceremony was followed by a brunch for donors and guests in Café Africa at the Little Rock Zoo. 

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