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Study Shows Zoo Investment Leads to $659 Million Economic Impact

Monday, Apr 26, 2021

Study Shows Zoo Investment Leads to $659 Million Economic Impact
Overall Impact Nears $1 Billion Over 15 Years as Zoo Draws Large Tourism Market

LITTLE ROCK (April 26, 2021) – The Little Rock Zoo released a study today showing that a $50 million dollar investment from the Rebuild the Rock initiative would create economic activity in the Little Rock area of more than $659 million. Overall economic activity related to the Zoo from 2015 to 2030 would amount to close to $1 billion dollars.

The study conducted by Intelligent Analytics and Modeling (IAMECON) and Zoo Advisors, a Zoo industry analytic firm, showed tourism uniquely created by the Little Rock Zoo has a significant impact on the local economy.  For the analysis, they reviewed the impact of the increase in attendance to the Zoo that would be created by the investment of $50 million.

Families travel to visit zoos. The city of Little Rock is currently losing tourism dollars to Tulsa, Memphis and St. Louis as tourists travel to these areas to visit their zoos. When the Little Rock Zoo builds on its Master Plan and becomes a regionally competitive zoo, more families will travel to Little Rock to visit the Little Rock Zoo. Other economic activity is created by capital expenditures and operational spending. This spending increases employment activity and other associated economic activity. Because the Little Rock Zoo is the only zoo in the state and one of the largest attractions in the state it uniquely has the potential to create this impact.

Zoo Director Susan Altrui said the results of the study were exciting and showed the tremendous economic value of the Little Rock Zoo beyond its value as a place for conservation learning and family recreation. “Investment in the Zoo has a real financial return and it’s about more than just making kids smile and providing great learning experiences. This is about driving real, tangible tourism dollars to our city and fueling economic opportunity,” said Altrui.

Owner of Allegra and Image 360 Little Rock and Zoo Foundation board chair, Lisa Buehler, echoed Altrui’s sentiment. “The Little Rock Zoo has untapped potential and there is good reason to invest in our Zoo. This economic impact study shows how investment in our Zoo helps grow our local economy and that’s something any resident or business person should be excited about,” said Buehler.

About the Zoo

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

About the Arkansas Zoological Foundation

The Arkansas Zoological Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) organization raising funds for the growth and development of the Little Rock Zoo. The Zoo Foundation has helped fund several projects at the Little Rock Zoo including the Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe habitat, the Cheetah Outpost, the Arkansas Heritage Farm, the Diamond Express Train and the soon to open Conservation Learning Center and Eastern collared lizard habitat. The Zoo Foundation hosts fundraisers throughout the year including the popular Wild Wines and Zoo Brew events. For more information, visit



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