Riddle's Sanctuary and African Elephants in Arkansas

Detail of an elephant face up close
••• Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

About an hour's drive from Little Rock, Riddle's is giving homes to African elephants in need. They also have Asian elephants. Finding elephants in the midst of Arkansas farmland is something most people might not expect.

Riddle's shelters any elephant in need no matter what species, sex, or disposition. Most of the elephants at the farm are retired entertainers, from circus elephants to elephants that small zoos could no longer support. However, some of the elephants have sadder stories. Solomon, Artie, and Felix, African elephants, were brought to the US after their family herds were culled in Zimbabwe.

Riddle's has also had some success in captive breeding. They have had three baby African elephants, Miss Betts, Batir, and Maximus, born at the facility. The staff at Riddles has contributed to research on elephant pregnancy and hormones.

Most of these elephants are retired circus performers, however, they no longer have to go through the circus routine or perform for crowds. Retired means the same for elephants as it does humans. They don't have to work anymore. They do sometimes do "exercises" since exercise is as good for elephants as it is for us.

Visiting Riddle's

The first Saturday of every month is Riddle's open house. For a small fee, the public can come and view the elephants at a safe distance and ask the keepers some questions.

If you are really interested in elephants, sign up for the "Elephant Experience Weekends" where people can get up close and personal experience. You get to feed, water, and bathe the elephants and help with other daily routines.

If that sounds too up close and personal for you, you can, from a safe distance, adopt an elephant. You pay a small fee and sponsor an individual elephant. This helps Riddle's cover your elephant's food, water, and medical attention.

Riddle's is located a couple of miles down a bumpy, gravel road off Highway 25 between Guy and Quitman. Head past Greenbrier and look for a really small sign with an elephant on it. It's kind of hard to find. Google Maps can help you be on the lookout for the right spot.