Check the Weather:
Summer in Arkansas gets pretty hot (check our average monthly temps). The animals at the zoo feel the heat too, and won’t be as active when it’s hot outside. They may even be inside. The zoo gives most animals access to indoor, cooled environments at all times. The animals may also retreat in rain and bad weather. The zoo won’t give you a refund if it rains on your trip, or if it’s too hot for the animals to come out.
Get up Early or Come Late:
The animals are most active early in the day or right before they are put up for the day (most get fed when they go in for the night). Head for big cats if you’re there first thing in the morning. From there go to check out the rhinos and bears area. The penguins are generally swimming in their temperature controlled pool all day. The primate/reptile building will give you some relief from the sun. Great apes are another good choice for first thing in the morning, but they are not quite as lazy in the afternoon as the cats.
Don’t go to the zoo too late. Many animals go up for the day in the last half hour or so the zoo is open. You might miss them!
Bring a Little Cash:
Admission, parking, gift shop items and cafe items can be paid for via credit card, but some items, such as lorikeet food, carousel rides, koi food, train tickets and some concessions, either require cash or are far easier with cash. Bring some small bills, like dollars or $5, as places like Lorikeet Landing will likely not be able to break larger bills. Quarters are required to feed the koi.
Have a Plan:
If you’re going with kids, find out the best path to see your kid’s favorite animal as soon into the visit as possible, because you never know when they’ll get tired.
You know your kid’s tolerance levels. A 7-year old will likely only be able to see part of the zoo, especially when it’s hot. Check out the zoo map online and see a few exhibits this time and a few the next. The Little Rock Zoo has two main paths that cut across almost the whole zoo (one is at the back and follows the train and one is at the front and goes from the gift shop to the cafe). These paths are broken down into several smaller sections. To see them all, you’ll have to do some doubling back, especially in the back of the zoo.
An adult or older child could probably see the whole zoo in a few hours. Don’t forget the areas past the train and cafe that house small carnivores and bears. Lots of people accidentally miss bears and it’s great!
For their safety, do not allow children to climb on barriers, place children over barriers or lift strollers over or onto barriers. Do not allow children to try to touch or pet the animals.
Dogs and other pets are not allowed in the zoo for the animals’ safety. Feeding of the animals is not allowed for their safety. Balloons and straws are also not allowed at the zoo.
Kids with wheeled shoes, scooters and other wheeled devices are not allowed to use them in the zoo to protect other guests.
If you have an accident or emergency that requires assistance, alert a staff member. Emergency personnel will require staff contact to help you. If your child is missing, staff can send out an alert. Look for someone in a zoo uniform. Most zoo staff members carry radios that can alert the front and other staff in the area.
Plan a Meal Time:
You are not allowed to bring outside food into the zoo (though they will probably look the other way at toddler snacks). The zoo does have a nice restaurant, Cafe Africa, and some concessions. Many chose to eat before or after their zoo visit, but Cafe Africa is centrally located and does make a nice mid-visit stop.
Pick Some Meet-up Places:
Have a list of meet-up places in case you and your child get separated, or if older children want to tour on their own. Some good ideas are the cafe, the gift shop, the cheetah outpost and penguin point (both have benches). Whatever your meet-up place, make sure all members of the family know where it is.
Get a membership:
Memberships aren’t much more than a few day’s admission. Buy one and you can return to the zoo many times during the year to catch what you’ve missed. Zoo admission and more information.