The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, in Hot Springs, is home to emu, goats, lemers, mountain lions, wolves, turtles, peacocks, and yes: alligators. Why, there’s even a leathery old Merman in residence!
Hot Springs’ Arkansas Alligator Farm is a lively part of America’s roadside tourist attractions and has been for over a century. In fact, the private farm has been raising alligators for exhibition since 1902.
The Farm was started by H.L. Campbell. Campbell was a real Arkansas character. He not only raised alligators but also collected sideshow oddities, shrunken heads and the like, for his roadside museum. His goal, so he said, was to provide Hot Springs with a tourist attraction to accompany the springs. He more than succeeded.
A lot has changed since those early days but the farm still raises alligators – and there is at least one original oddity still on display.
Pet A Goat, Feed an Alligator
With a title like “Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo,” you can be excused for wondering if visitors won’t need to sign a release of some kind. Worry not. The Petting Zoo is a separate attraction and contains animals like emu, pygmy goats, and sheep – not alligators.
The alligators on the Farm, a large collection of both adults and babies, spend much of their time in outdoor ponds. They seem pretty lazy at first, sunning themselves or just floating idly in the water. Watch them spring into action during feeding time, however!
Along with watching feedings, visitors may also have the chance to hold a baby alligator. You may even get the chance to feed the gators, yourself. Watch your fingers!
Come of these activities are only available between May and mid-October. During the colder months, the Farm’s gators spend their time hibernating under heat lamps in a wintering barn. The Farm is open year-round, however, so you can at least view this unique spectacle.
Arkansas Alligator Farm is also home to lemers, mountain lions, wolves, turtles, raccoons, peacocks, and many other animals. You never know who you’ll meet here!
Other Attractions at the Farm
Beyond all the beautiful animals, the farm also has a souvenir shop and a snack bar. A small museum located on the grounds displays a fascinating collection of mounted specimens.
One of the biggest attractions, however, has to be the “Merman” in the barn. This creepy bit of taxidermy (or craft work) is a large example of a classic “Feejee Mermaid,” a hoax popularized by P.T. Barnum in the 1840s. This particular specimen is the farm’s oldest resident, a holdover from H.L. Campbell’s original collection of oddities.
The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
847 Whittington Ave, Hot Springs, AR
Open all year ’round. Seasonal hours. Alligator feeding shows occur May through mid-October. Visit the Zoo online at alligatorfarmzoo.com to learn more. You can also find the Zoo on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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