Whether you’re looking for bears, lions, or tigers, you can be sure that you’ll see them in the beautiful zoos in Arkansas. The various types of wildlife found in the woods of Arkansas can be hard to find, so if you’re looking to see exotic creatures, there’s no better place than the zoo. As a result, visiting zoos is a favorite activity for both locals and tourists.
Animal parks are also some of the best places to see giant snakes, elephants, gorillas, penguins, and monkeys. So if you’re looking for a new kind of adventure that you can share with the kids, here are some of the best zoos in Arkansas where you can meet animals up close and personal.
Cities that have a Zoo in Arkansas
Below are some of the best zoos and wildlife parks that you can visit in Arkansas.
Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, Hot Springs
Located in Hot Springs, the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo provides kids and kids at heart with the opportunity to hold a baby alligator, feed and pet parakeets, as well as see a huge variety of animals, such as:
- Mountain lions
- Pygmy goats
- And more
For those looking to get more out of their visit, you’ll be able to feed alligators with meat on a stick during feeding season from May to mid-October. At the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo, something is exciting for everyone. There are individual rates and group rates, as well as military and senior discounts, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity.
This petting zoo was founded in 1902 by Mr. H.L. Campbell and served as an alligator farm in its first years until it was sold to Mr. Danny S. Older before 1929. From then, its name had changed into the Alligator Farm and Marine Museum where it enjoyed plenty of visitors who didn’t just come for the alligators but for the hot thermal baths too. In 1947, the farm was bought by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Bridges, Sr., and was since called The Arkansas Alligator Farm.
It was then sold to Mr. Jack Bridges, Jr. and his late wife Sue in 1965 where they added more attractions such as loggerhead turtles, raccoons, monkeys, and the gift shop. Today, the farm not only includes both baby and adult alligators but also a wide array of other fascinating creatures that provide wonder and awe to children and adults alike.
Address: 847 Whittington Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901 | Phone: (501) 623-6172 | Website: alligatorfarmzoo.com
Little Rock Zoo, Little Rock
Little Rock Zoo is one of the most beloved zoos in the state, where over 500 kinds of animals roam throughout 33 acres of the stunning landscape. This “living” classroom allows guests to walk in leisure while exploring the zoo and interacting with its inhabitants. Some of the best attractions to see here include the following:
- The Reptile House: This attraction holds many snakes and lizards, including the deadly Gaboon viper.
- Lorikeet Landing: Here, an interactive exhibit awaits visitors who wish to feed the colorful Lorikeets of the zoo. While they are usually friendly and even enjoy spending time with guests, they can’t tolerate cold temperatures and may cause the exhibit to close.
- Fish Feeding: This seasonal attraction presents guests with several fish feeding stations by the duck pond, Lemur Island, and Siamangs Exhibit. For just 25 cents, you can get a handful of fish food.
- Cafe Africa: Open throughout the year, Cafe Africa serves visitors snacks, meals, and cold drinks. The menu features food items such as sandwiches, hamburgers, chicken tenders, salads, ice cream, and vegetarian choices.
Another great reason to visit the Little Rock Zoo is the Safari Trader Market, where you can find a selection of unique nature-themed toys, souvenirs, and gifts for both kids and adults. You can also catch a great educational presentation by the Civitan Amphitheater stage to learn more about the animals who live in the zoo. If you’re looking to visit regularly, the zoo offers memberships available from their website.
Address: 1 Zoo Dr, Little Rock, AR 72205 | Phone: (501) 661-7200 | littlerockzoo.com
Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, Greenbrier
Founded in 1990 by Scott and Heidi Riddle, Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary sits on 330 acres inside the Ozark Mountain foothills in Arkansas. This non-profit organization serves as the home for Asian and African elephants looking for shelter regardless of their gender, species, temperament, or health. It is the only internationally recognized sanctuary that takes in elephants that have been rescued from circuses, zoos, or private owners.
The sanctuary allows visitors to see the elephants only once a month in exchange for a donation of $5 — this helps to keep it a suitable home for these beautiful creatures. Moreover, an “Adopt the Elephant” program offers people the chance to donate money to help care for and feed the elephants. It also hosts the Elephant Experience Weekend a few times a year to give elephant lovers time to get close with the elephants and to see the efforts that go into caring for them daily.
Through donations and grants, this paradise for elephants can house as many as 12 elephants at a time, where three baby elephants have been delivered as of 2010. Maximus, an African elephant who was born here is a celebrity resident of the sanctuary and was featured in the Animal Planet TV show called Growing Up Elephant. Behind the scenes, Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary performs various kinds of animal research to further help elephants in the wild.
The staff will usually take blood samples from the elephants every month to help provide data on elephant diseases. They also have extensive research on elephant repellants to use in areas around the world where there is a conflict between elephants and humans. Throughout the years, students from Hendrix College have worked at the sanctuary along with biology expert, Dr. Keith Sutton until he died in 2001.
Address: 233 Pumpkin Center Cir, Quitman, AR 72131 | Phone: (501) 589-3291
Wild Wilderness Drive-Through Safari, Gentry
Taken from the website: Wild Wilderness Safari is closed to the public. Consideration of several business factors affecting the operations of Safari resulted in this decision. We have greatly enjoyed providing a fun and educational experience and appreciate the support of Our Many friends and visitors since the 1970s.
Zoos in Arkansas are some of the most lively places you can go to, simply because they are teeming with a wide range of animals that you may not have the chance to see out in the wild. From the smallest of insects to great, big elephants, you can be sure that this state has it all. So if you’re looking for an opportunity to see all kinds of animals in action, be sure to visit one of these great zoos during your trip.
A Guide to Visiting Zoos in Arkansas
Before you can go around to visit zoos in Arkansas, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind, such as policies and rules to abide by:
- Everyone loves the zoo during spring and fall, so there will be crowds, especially on Thursday and Friday mornings.
- One adult chaperone is required for every 10 students in any grade. Chaperones must remain with students during the visit.
- Some zoos have a strict “no feeding” policy to keep their animals healthy.
- Masks are not required but are encouraged when on the trails. Masks are also required for special programs.
- Visitor groups are required to stay 6 feet apart inside the zoo grounds.
- Visitors with COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to enter the zoo. If you are sick, you should stay home for the safety of the animals and others.
- Do not touch your face unless they are freshly cleaned.
- It’s best to wear running shoes or something comfortable for your feet since most zoos will have gravel trails.
- Most people also bring their food since they can be expensive inside the zoos and there aren’t many options.