By Kim Meyer-Webb | Photography by Nancy Nolan | Produced by Ellen Scruggs | Hair by Chaz Gogel with Face Your Day Salon | Makeup by Aaron Perkins with Face Your Day Salon | Dress from The Bridal Cottage | Tablescape by Park Hill Home
Special thanks to Education Animal Care Specialist Hannah Baker; Education Animal Keepers LeeAnn Goette, Caitlin Quilter and Kristin Pereira; Farm Animal Keepers Jessica Creasy and Lauren Pickle
All featured animals are Animal Ambassadors with the Little Rock Zoo Education Outreach Department and are showcased at special events throughout Central Arkansas – teaching audiences about their wild counterparts.
As the mother of a precocious seven-year-old along with a family full of pets, Lauren recognizes the important role the Little Rock Zoo plays in our community. The zoo offers a unique opportunity to experience international, sometimes endangered, animals and a global perspective of wildlife conservation. Education is a critical component of the vast amenities the Little Rock Zoo provides. This year, the Little Rock Zoo Animal Ambassadors join Chairman Lauren Landers for a Wild Wines that promises fun + festive fare, along with some truly wild party animals that will captivate and entertain.
This Little Rock native remembers visiting the zoo throughout her childhood and enjoys sharing this experience with her daughter. “She was probably just one year old when we first visited the zoo,” Lauren notes. “It was, and remains, a favorite. I want to preserve and improve the zoo for future generations.”
Mutual friends introduced Lauren to Little Rock Zoo Director Susan Altrui. Susan’s undeniable enthusiasm and devotion to the zoo impressed Lauren and made it an easy decision to get involved. “I love all animals, and the zoo provides important educational experiences for families and awareness of the natural world around us,” Lauren explains. She applied and joined the Arkansas Zoological Foundation Board of Directors with the intent to “inspire people to respect and conserve our natural world.”
The zoo is not completely supported by tax revenue from the City of Little Rock, Lauren notes. “It requires funding from the community to complete new projects.” The Arkansas Zoological Foundation generates additional revenue for new exhibits and programming. Completed projects include the Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe exhibit, the Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost, the Diamond Express Train and the recently completed Arkansas Heritage Farm.
The Arkansas Zoological Foundation presents Wild Wines and boasts DOUBLE THE FUN this year! Hosted in Café Africa at the zoo, the Wild Wines Reserve Room offers a more intimate opportunity to interact with the animals and enjoy wonderful wines paired perfectly with local favorites from SO, Cache and the Capital Hotel. The Grand Tasting extravaganza returns to War Memorial Stadium – featuring more than 50 restaurants along with a wide variety of wild beverages and entertainment. Director Susan Altrui notes, “We’re bringing the zoo experience to War Memorial with staged programming throughout the evening that demonstrates the work our dedicated staff does every day to share the importance of wildlife conservation.”
Zoo docents paired with Animal Ambassadors mix and mingle with furry + feathered friends throughout both evenings – sharing insight combined with a dash of the unexpected.
Proceeds from Wild Wines benefit renovations of the Education Building and Conservation Play Area that will introduce the young and young at heart to Zooventures at the Little Rock Zoo – an education program designed to engage the mind and spirit with the wild wonders of the world. This year, as Lauren shares her commitment to the Little Rock Zoo and panache for a good time with patrons + friends, Susan believes the timing is perfect. “Lauren’s heart for service continues to provide ample opportunity for her to improve the landscape of the Capital City. We’re fortunate she’s an ardent ambassador for the Little Rock Zoo.”
FANTASTIC “ZOO-TASTIC” FACTS:
700+ animals / 200 different species
300,000 guests annually
Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums