LITTLE ROCK, AK — Verizon Wireless, operator of the nation's most reliable wireless network, is helping the Little Rock Zoo celebrate its 80th birthday Saturday, April 1 with professional football player and former Arkansas Razorback Matt Jones.
The Verizon Wireless Call of the Wild begins at 10 a.m. featuring a parade, free face painting for kids, birthday cake and Yarnell's ice cream, costumed animal characters, free giveaways, "Creature Feature" educational live animal demonstrations every 15 minutes and surprise celebrity guests.
Jones, who was drafted ninth overall in the 2004 NFL draft after spending four years with the Razorbacks, will be available for photo sessions beginning at 12:15 p.m. in front of the Zoo's Jaguar exhibit.
Verizon Wireless South Area President and Little Rock native Jack Plating will present a donation on behalf of Verizon Wireless to the Little Rock Zoo Conservation Fund, in addition to a special gift presentation to the Zoo's Big Cats.
"Verizon Wireless is proud to be a strong community partner of the Little Rock Zoo," Plating said. "The Zoo is one of the treasures of Arkansas and we are committed to helping enrich the lives of our customers and their communities."
Celebrating its 80th birthday this year, the Little Rock Zoo began with just two animals, a trained circus bear and an abandoned timberwolf in 1926. Today, it has become the second most-visited attraction in Arkansas, drawing more than 350,000 people annually.
A special silent auction featuring paintings commissioned by the Zoo Big Cats will also be available during the event, in addition to a visit from "Kago," a 5-year-old cheetah from the Columbus Zoo outreach program directed by Jack Hanna.
Jones will serve as grand marshal of the event parade at 1 p.m. which will include international dancers, live animals and giveaways thrown from custom-made floats. One lucky visitor will have the opportunity to win the right to name one of the Zoo's new big cats following the event.
"The Little Rock Zoo is thrilled to have Verizon Wireless as a partner during our milestone 80th birthday and welcomes this outstanding company to central Arkansas," Mike Blakely, Zoo Director said. "With continued support from companies like Verizon Wireless, the Zoo can look forward to a future as one of the best facilities in America for wildlife management, education, and conservation."
Verizon Wireless Call of the Wild promotional partners KTHV-TV morning show anchors Tom Brannon and Becky Ditchfield will be present at the event as well, alongside fellow feline friend Larry the Garden Cat.
The event is free with paid admission to the Zoo, $6 for adults and $4 for children. Admission is free for all Zoo members. For more information, visit www.littlerockzoo.com.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, KTHV-TV, Radio Disney and 103.7FM "The Buzz" are promotional partners of Verizon Wireless Call of the Wild.
About the Little Rock Zoo
The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (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 www.aza.org.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 51.3 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.