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New at the zoo 

Penguin proves to be popular star

click to enlarge Laura, an African penguin, stars in the Wild Wonders Animal Show at the Little Rock Zoo.
  • Laura, an African penguin, stars in the Wild Wonders Animal Show at the Little Rock Zoo.

For Jessica Clanton and her kids Jayce, Jericho, Nina and Jael, a trip to the Little Rock Zoo is a rare treat. It's about a three-hour drive from their home near Lead Hill to the city's midtown area.

This isn't their first visit to the zoo, and Clanton says it won't be the last. The family is eager to see the opening of the penguin exhibit.

Susan Altrui, the zoo's Marketing and Development director says they hope to have the $2.2 million exhibit—starring a waddle of African penguins—open in a few months.

In anticipation of the grand opening for penguin fanatics, the zoo is offering the Wild Wonders Animal show, featuring an African penguin named Laura. This part of the Zoo's EdZOOcation Outreach program and Wild Wonders will run through Oct. 31.

But penguins aren't the only ones stealing the show. "Boo at the Zoo, Arkansas's largest annual Halloween festival, will be bigger and better than ever before," Altrui says. This year, Boo at the Zoo is Frightfully New! Boo will feature added amenities and attractions including the Dead Sea Aquarium, Haunted Veldt Walkway and a Ghost Roast area where families can toast s'mores by the fire. There's an updated Haunted Train and Haunted House, as well as a longtime favorite, the chance to trick-or-treat at the zoo.

"The overall experience of Boo has also been improved with added lights and other fun features," she says.

For more information about programs at the Little Rock Zoo, call 666-2406 or go to www.littlerockzoo.com.

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