Elephants and the Garden

I traveled to Central Arkansas to visit a place that's taking the idea of animals in the garden to another level, Riddles Elephant Sanctuary.


Allen: Hi, Scott, thanks so much for having us. Tell us a little bit about what you do here at Riddles Elephant Sanctuary.

Scott: Well, this is a sanctuary specifically for elephants. It's the only facility in the United States, probably the Western World, that gives homes to any elephant that needs one.

Allen: Well they are fantastic, hello girls!

Scott: This is Peggy, this is Mary and this is Betty Boop, we call her Booper. They are all Asian females.

Allen: Well I can see that they all have distinct personalities.

Scott: Yes, and distinctive looks once you get used to them. They all look a little different once you get used to them just like human beings do.

Allen: The first Saturday of the month families can come out and see the elephants. What do they do?

Scott: We have folks here that give them tours. If they bring fruits and vegetables they can stand back from a distance and throw it to them, feed them. We just want people to be interested in the survival of elephants because education is the key, especially with children. We really need to take the plight of the elephant to the people, but also we need to consider the importance of captive elephants because they are the ones that are going to save the wild elephants. In captivity is where all of the educational things are done, the research is done, to save the wild ones. So it is a great cooperative effort that is being put on by the captive elephants and the wild elephants and everyone who is involved with them and we're a big part of that. We're very proud of that.

Allen: So we've got Peggy and Mary and Betty Boop.

Scott: Correct.

Allen: And how much would one of these girls weigh?

Scott: Peggy is the largest of these three and she weighs close to 9000 pounds. The other two weigh about 8000 pounds apiece. They carry their weight well, though.

Allen: With the interest in organic farming, I know many zoos across the country were producing products, some called Zoo Doo where they use the waste from the animals to work into the garden. What do you do with your own special Zoo Doo here at Riddles?

Scott: Well, elephant manure is great fertilizer; it's tremendously good fertilizer. We spread it on all of our pastures. We have 330 acres here and close to 200 of that is pasture. So, we spread it at about 14 to 15 spreader loads a day on our grass and it has improved the grass tremendously. We haven't had to use any type of commercial fertilizer.

Allen: Well, Scott, thank you so much for having me here at the sanctuary today.

Scott: Thanks for coming out, you can come up and get some fertilizer anytime you want.

Allen: I appreciate it! Thanks for what you're doing for animal conservation.

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