Heiken’s Ark

Welcome to our “Ark”. This site will give you an overview of who we are, information on all of our animals and hopefully a taste of the joy these wonderful creatures add to all of our lives.  We hope you enjoy your visit to our site and will contact us if you have any questions.

Heiken’s Ark IS Like Noah’s Ark

Many people ask us how we got started with our exotic animal farm. It started slowly and seemed to mushroom as time went on. Back in 1987, Dick who is a Shriner, felt that his local Shrine Temple needed to have a Camel Patrol Unit. He was in a unit that drove custom made three wheeled motorcycles in parades. He convinced the guys in his unit that they should change and become the only Shrine unit that owned its camels.

Heiken's Ark Camel Patrol Unit

They started the process and before long they had purchased two dromedary camels. Dick decided that we needed to sell our house on a golf course and buy a place where we could build a barn and keep the camels. That’s where Heiken’s Ark started!!

Heiken's Ark White Camels

Within two years we had moved and had a 35-acre parcel of land with the house, barn and two camels. Both of us really liked the dromedary camels. Dick and the other guys of the Camel Patrol had started looking for more camels and had gone to some exotic animal auctions. He came home and told me about these wonderful creatures that were the hottest item around – potbellied pigs. That spring (1989) he brought our first two pigs home from an auction. In the fall came two more.

Heiken's Ark Miniature Donkey BabyIn the spring of 1990 we made the mistake of going to an auction together. We came away with four miniature donkeys and a llama. Our ark was beginning to be stocked.

One month later we again went to an auction together. When we were walking through the pens in the back of the sale barn, I saw my first pygmy goats. One of the little females was as wide as she was tall and cute as a button. I asked Dick if I could get her and he told me that if I wanted to get a goat it should not be a pygmy. They were too precocious for us and if I wanted a goat, I should get a fainting goat. So I did. I bought two pair.

Heiken's Ark Fainting Goats

That same year we added miniature Zebu cattle, peacocks, a pair of Grant zebra, and a pair of Jacob’s sheep (4 horns) to Heiken’s Ark. It seemed that our ark was growing two by two! The next year we added Watusi cattle and more miniature donkeys. In 1992 we added the final species to our ark – reindeer (and more miniature donkeys).

Heiken's Ark Watusi and Reindeer

Just as our farm was beginning to seem too small, the Des Moines Airport decided that it needed our land for expansion. We were moved out quicker than we wanted, but in the long run it worked well for us. We now live on 180 acres, have eight barns and miles of high fence.

As our farm grew so did the number of animals that we have. When you start with two of each species, you soon get many more (some by reproduction and some by adding to your breeding stock). We have tried to build our herds with the highest quality breeding stock. We have a goal in mind for each species and strive to achieve it. We’ve been working on it for more than twenty years and are seeing positive and rewarding results.  Our largest herd is now miniature donkeys which number more than 400.  You can imagine that we always have many donkeys for sale.

Heiken’s Ark has been a joy for us to build and we encourage those who are interested in the animals to come and visit us.