Tucked away on Whittington Avenue in Hot Springs lies a quirky attraction that’s been around for over a century – the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. Founded in 1902 by an entrepreneur named H.L. Campbell, the privately owned zoo was established to draw more tourists to the area’s famous thermal baths. Visitors could marvel at the farm’s collection of over 1,500 American alligators and explore a small natural history museum.
In the 1940s, new owners Jack and Sue Bridges added more species like monkeys, raccoons, and loggerhead turtles to delight guests. Today, the beloved Arkansas Alligator Farm houses around 200 gators and an eclectic ensemble of cougars, wild turkeys, lemurs, deer, and more. Families enjoy getting close with cute goats, emus, and pigs in the petting zoo and watching the daily alligator feeding shows.
Beyond the animals, the farm’s souvenir shop sells plenty of quirky gator-themed memorabilia to commemorate your visit. History buffs will also appreciate the small museum displaying mounted alligators and oddball artifacts like a supposed “merman” mummy. Baseball fans may even recognize the Alligator Farm in Babe Ruth lore from its cameo. In 1918, the Sultan of Swat famously hit a towering home run from across the street that landed right in the zoo’s alligator pond!
So, if you find yourself longing for a uniquely Arkansas experience, venture over to the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo. At over 100 years old, this beloved family attraction offers smiles, selfies, and a few playful nibbles from its adorable zoo critters, both big and small. Just watch your step around those gators!
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