On April 17, 2010 a group of scholars from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock traveled to a 330 acre area just outside Greenbrier, AR known as Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary for an afternoon of education and interaction with the largest land animals on the planet. Upon arriving at the sanctuary the group was greeted by Heidi Riddle, co-founder of the sanctuary, and then was taken to an up close and personal introduction to Peggy and Betty Boop, two female Asian elephants. Members of the group were encouraged to touch and interact with the elephants, under close supervision of staff, and even fed these two magnificent beasts a hearty meal of carrots.
Afterwords the group met Hank, a male Asian elephant standing over 12 feet tall and held at bay by a large, red-iron fence. The participants were not allowed to get closer than around 25ft to Hank due to the fact that males are more aggressive than females and are extremely powerful.
On another part of the sanctuary grounds were Amy, a female African elephant, and her recently born daughter, Miss Bets. The group also witnessed a birthday party for Maximus, a young African male, which included a birthday carrot cake which was devoured in three bites.
Along with the privilege of being able to observe these animals at such close range, the group also learned about the elephants diets, behavior, gestation periods, and conservation. Riddle’s Elephant Sanctuary, founded in 1990, has a mission of providing a safe, permanent haven for all elephants requiring sanctuary, and to promote the knowledge and understanding of these endangered species through education, training, and study.
Further information for Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary can be found at their website: http:/www.elephantsanctuary.org/