Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo

The Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo is a privately owned zoo located on Whittington Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas.[2]

The farm raises alligators and has done so since it was founded in 1902.[3] The farm includes a small museum with a collection of mounted alligators, a souvenir shop and a snack bar. It includes the mummified carcass purporting to be a "Merman", similar to ones held in Ripley's Believe It or Not! museums.[4]

The main alligator pit contains a small headstone, a memorial to somebody's fox terrier that was killed by alligators on that spot in 1906.[5]

Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
Picturesque Hot Springs Alligator Farm 1924
Alligator farm circa 1924
Date opened1902[1]
LocationHot Springs, Arkansas, United States
Coordinates34°30′54″N 93°04′24″W / 34.51500°N 93.07333°WCoordinates: 34°30′54″N 93°04′24″W / 34.51500°N 93.07333°W
No. of animals400
No. of species60


H. L. Campbell founded the farm in 1902 because he thought the Hot Springs area needed a tourist attraction in addition to the thermal baths. He sold it to D. S. Older some time before 1929. During this time it was called the "Hot Springs Gator Farm", and had up to 1500 alligators and included a small museum.[6]

The farm was sold to Jack Bridges, Sr. and his wife in 1945, and the name was changed to the Arkansas Alligator Farm.[7] The Bridges added a gift shop, and well as other animals such as monkeys, raccoons, and logger-head turtles. Jack Bridges Jr. and his wife Sue purchased the zoo in 1965, and added more animals, as well as a petting zoo and a small museum.[6]


In addition to about 200 alligators,[1][8] the zoo now includes cougars, turkeys, chickens, wild boars, turtles, bobcats,[9] and ring-tailed lemurs.[10]

The farm includes a petting zoo with goats, emus, llamas, white-tailed deer, pigs, baby alligators, and other animals. Visitors can get close to the animals and feed them. The alligator feeding show also includes educational material about the animals.


The farm started out as a business to raise alligators for their hides and to sell live alligators to parks and zoos. The farm was one of the first to use incubators to help raise the eggs into hatchlings.[11] In its early days, visitors were able to purchase live baby alligators from the farm.[12]

Baseball history and the alligator farm

In 1918, the Alligator Farm became part of Babe Ruth baseball lore, due to its location directly across from Whittington Park, then the Spring Training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ruth, playing in a 1918 spring training game for the Boston Red Sox on St. Patrick's Day, hit a home run that traveled an astonishing 573 feet, over Whittington Avenue that landed in the second pond at the alligator farm. At the time, Ruth was a star pitcher. However, he soon became a legendary hitter, in part due to his home run that day. A prominent marker inside the Alligator Farm recognizes the event.[13][14][15]

Also on the property of the Alligator Farm today, is the field that was once Fogel Field. This field is adjacent to the parking lot and is used for overflow parking. Fogel Field was constructed by Hot Springs in 1912 as a spring training site for Major League Baseball teams. Named for Horace Fogel, President of the Philadelphia Phillies, Fogel Field hosted the Phillies (1912) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1921–1923, 1926). Later, the Kansas City Monarchs (1928), Homestead Grays (1930–1931) and Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-1935) of the Negro League used Fogel Field as their spring training site.[16]

Outside the Alligator Farm, as part of the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail are markers for Babe Ruth and Fogel Field.

The Ruth marker reads:

The Fogel Field plaque reads:


The zoo was featured on ABC News and the TV show Untamed and Uncut when an animal handler was attacked by an alligator.[19][20]

The Babe Ruth 573-foot home run and the Alligator Farm are featured in The First Boys of Spring (2015), a documentary focusing on the historical importance of Hot Springs spring training baseball. The documentary is narrated by Arkansas native, actor Billy Bob Thornton and produced by Larry Foley.[21][22][23] The documentary began airing nationally on the MLB Network in February, 2016.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo". Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo. Archived from the original on 2007-07-11. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  2. ^ DeLano, Patti (2008). Arkansas Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-7627-4856-3. OCLC 213838632. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  3. ^ "Farm a fun place if you're not a chicken". The Express-Times. Easton, Pennsylvania: Martin K. Till. June 20, 1999. OCLC 12075151.
  4. ^ Bolstridge, Eric (5 January 2010). "Hot Springs, Arkansas - Arkansas Alligator Farm - Home of the Merman". Roadside America. Doug Kirby, Ken Smith, Mike Wilkins. Archived from the original on 2010-05-03. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  5. ^ Hanley, Ray; Steven Hanley (2000). Hot Springs, Arkansas. Arcadia Publishing. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7385-0885-6. OCLC 44763029. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  6. ^ a b "Farm History". Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Alligator farm old attraction". The Lawton Constitution. Lawton, Oklahoma: Steve Bentley. November 27, 1999. ISSN 0889-566X. OCLC 12239552.
  8. ^ "Alligator Farm Celebrates 105th Birthday". KLRT-TV. Little Rock, Arkansas: Newport Television LLC. 7 February 2007. Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  9. ^ "Arkansas Alligator Farm". KLRT-TV. Little Rock, Arkansas: Newport Television LLC. August 1, 2008. Archived from the original on 30 December 2008. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  10. ^ "About Us". Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo. Archived from the original on 2007-08-24. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  11. ^ Hanley, Ray; Steven G. Hanley (1998). Hot Springs, Arkansas in vintage postcards. Arcadia Publishing. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-7385-3382-7. OCLC 42733773. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  12. ^ "Bill Jenkinson". Bill Jenkinson. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  13. ^ "From a Fan: Rare Photos of Babe Ruth in Hot Springs Babe Ruth Central: Babe Ruth, Babe Ruth Photos, Babe Ruth Statistics, Babe Ruth Biography". Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  14. ^ Budd Bailey. "Road Trips!". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05.
  15. ^ "Arkansas Baseball Encyclopedia - Fogel Field". Archived from the original on 14 February 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Babe Ruth". Hot Springs Arkansas Baseball Trail. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  17. ^ "Fogel Field «  Hot Springs Arkansas Historic Baseball Trail". Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Mother Nature's Nightmares". Untamed & Uncut. Season 2. Episode 3. July 19, 2009. Animal Planet. Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Tourists watch as feeding time goes disastrously wrong for a handler at the Arkansas Alligator farm.
  19. ^ Wild Encounter: When Animals Attack (Flash video) (Television production). ABC News. 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 9 September 2010. An alligator attacked a worker at the Arkansas Alligator Farm
  20. ^ "Boys of Spring - Arkansas Life". 1 October 2015. Archived from the original on 25 January 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  21. ^ "My Site". Archived from the original on 27 February 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Larry Foley". Larry Foley. Archived from the original on 18 April 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  23. ^ "MLB Network to air 'First Boys of Spring' doc". Archived from the original on 8 July 2017. Retrieved 27 April 2018.

External links

Ban Johnson Park

Ban Johnson Park was a baseball stadium located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, within the Whittington Park Historic District, a "tree-shaded greenway" that is located along Whittington Creek, which runs down the center island of Whittington Avenue. The location of the ballpark was across from the still active Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo (built 1902).Originally known as Whittington Park, the field served as a training site for many Major League Baseball teams, by hosting spring training games and serving as home for minor league teams. In 1918, Babe Ruth hit a 573-foot home run at the park, while a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The park was also home to the ever first Umpire School. In 1935, Ray Doan, the operator of a youth instructional camp at Whittington Park, renamed the park after Hall of Fame baseball pioneer Ban Johnson, founder of the American League.

Fogel Field

Fogel Field was a baseball stadium, located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The site was also known as Fordyce Field and Holder Field. Fogel Field was built in 1912 as a spring training site for Major League Baseball teams. The field was named for Horace Fogel, President of the Philadelphia Phillies. Fogel Field hosted the Phillies (1912) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (1921–1923, 1926). The Kansas City Monarchs (1928), Homestead Grays (1930–1931) and Pittsburgh Crawfords (1932-1935) of Negro League Baseball also used Fogel Field as their spring training.

Several minor league teams from the American Association used Fogel Field as well: Indianapolis Indians (1926–1927), Milwaukee Brewers (1927–1931) and St. Paul Saints (1934–1935) . The Montreal Royals of the International League (1932) trained at Fogel Field.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs is a resort city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Garland County. The city is located in the Ouachita Mountains among the U.S. Interior Highlands, and is set among several natural hot springs for which the city is named. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 35,193. In 2017 the estimated population was 36,915.The center of Hot Springs is the oldest federal reserve in the United States, today preserved as Hot Springs National Park. The hot spring water has been popularly believed for centuries to possess healing properties, and was a subject of legend among several Native American tribes. Following federal protection in 1832, the city developed into a successful spa town. Incorporated January 10, 1851, the city has been home to Major League Baseball spring training, illegal gambling, speakeasies and gangsters such as Al Capone, horse racing at Oaklawn Park, the Army and Navy Hospital, and 42nd President Bill Clinton. One of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States, the Assemblies of God, traces its beginnings to Hot Springs.

Today, much of Hot Springs's history is preserved by various government entities. Hot Springs National Park is maintained by the National Park Service, including Bathhouse Row, which preserves the eight historic bathhouse buildings and gardens along Central Avenue. Downtown Hot Springs is preserved as the Central Avenue Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city also contains dozens of historic hotels and motor courts, built during the Great Depression in the Art Deco style. Due to the popularity of the thermal waters, Hot Springs benefited from rapid growth during a period when many cities saw a sharp decline in building; much like Miami's art deco districts. As a result, Hot Springs's architecture is a key part of the city's blend of cultures, including a reputation as a tourist town and a Southern city. Also a destination for the arts, Hot Springs features the Hot Springs Music Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival annually.

List of zoos in the United States

This is an incomplete list of existing, reputable zoos in the United States. For a list of aquaria, see List of aquaria in the United States, and for a list of nature centers, see List of nature centers in the United States.

Zoos are primarily terrestrial facilities where animals are held in enclosures and displayed to the public for education and entertainment. Animals may be bred, as well, to maintain captive populations and kept under veterinary care. These facilities include zoos, safari parks, animal theme parks, aviaries, butterfly zoos, reptile centers, and petting zoos, as well as wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves where visitors are allowed. Zoos in the United States show great diversity in both size and collection. Many are notable for ongoing global wildlife conservation and captive breeding efforts, especially for endangered animal species.

Little Rock Zoo

The Little Rock Zoo was founded in 1926 and is located in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States. It is home to more than 725 animals representing over 200 species, and covers an area of 33 acres (13 ha). The Arkansas Zoological Foundation is a private 501 c (3) organization that raises funds for zoo development. The Little Rock Zoo is a department of the city of Little Rock. It is the largest zoo in Arkansas, and the only Arkansas zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Spring training

In Major League Baseball (MLB), spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives established players practice time prior to competitive play. Spring training has always attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warm climates of Arizona and Florida to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play, and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many US college students.

Spring training typically starts with "truck day", which is when equipment trucks for each team leave their hometowns to drive down to spring training. This usually happens in the last week of January or the first week of February. In mid-February, pitchers and catchers report, and within a week of that, the rest of the team reports. Exhibition games start in the later part of February, and continues until just before Opening Day of the regular season, which falls in the last week of March, or the first week of April. In some years, teams not scheduled to play on Opening Day will play spring training games that day. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training first because pitchers benefit from a longer training period. A few days later, position players arrive and team practice begins. Exhibition games usually begin in late February.

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