LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences threw a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit reunion at the Little Rock Zoo Sunday morning for children and staff.

Dozens of NICU graduates and their families got a chance to see some of the animals up close, and to visit with their friends from the hospital.

There was also, pizza, face painting, and cupcakes.

UAMS NICU medical director Dr. Sara Peebles said that the event is a great reunion for both families and staff who become like a second family.

“When families are in the NICU for a long time, some of our babies spend over 100 days with us,” Dr. Peebles said. “The nursing staff really becomes a second family, so it is like a family reunion, and that is really special.”

Sunday’s festivities mark the first UAMS NICU event to be held off-campus, and the first in-person reunion since the COVID-19 pandemic.