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RACINE COUNTY — Lions and tigers and bears, oh my— there’s a new ranch in Caledonia with a collection of exotic and some not-so-exotic animals now known as Rigden Ranch.

Rigden Ranch
Rigden Ranch now resides where the longtime petting zoo Jo Don Farms once stood. Rancher Shayne Rigden is transforming the property to become a place for educational and informative animal encounters. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Rancher Shayne Rigden has taken the reigns and transformed the property where Jo Don Farms and the Caledonia Zoological Society once resided, to offer the community an intimate, educational and unique way to observe and interact with animals.

“We came in and we started tearing a lot of stuff down. We’re going through all the pens making sure they’re adequate, and deciding which ones we’re going to keep, which ones we’re going to tear down, notes the owner.

The property is currently in a transitional and expansion phase.

From childhood animal lover to business owner

Rigden, a graduate of Horlick High School and part-time Veterinary Technician at the Caledonia Veterinary Clinic, has always loved animals.

As a child, his family fostered dogs and cats.

“It was like the most fascinating thing in the world to me,” says Rigden.

As a young adult, he fell in love with his job at Jo Don Farms where he began caring for larger farm and exotic animals.

“It started as a job, but I couldn’t help but to fall in love,” expresses Shayne.

Now in his mid-twenties, he’s building a business from the ground up connecting people to animals like camels, lemurs, capybaras and more. With the education he provides, Shayne knows he couldn’t do it without his pack of furry friends.

Rigden Ranch
Shayne Rigden, the owner, holding a young kangaroo named Rodger. – Credit: Emma Widmar

“These animals teach us every day,” comments Shayne. “They probably teach us more than we teach them.”

Reservation-based ranch visits

The business operates on a strictly reservation-based model. This allows for the one-of-a-kind experience that Rigden wants to provide.

Rigden Ranch
The tortoise on the ranch is one of the many animals visitors can visit and learn about. – Credit: Emma Widmar

“I think that’s going to be the way it stays,” says Rigden.

“It makes it a lot easier on me, but to be honest, in my opinion, and in doing this with others who I’ve helped out with a reservation based (system), we end up with a much happier base of customers.”

The ranch is located at 5907 Nicholson Road in Caledonia, but you can also catch the animals on the road at different fairs and events too, or even at Jerry Smith Produce & Pumpkin Farm.

Reservations can be made online.

What’s there to see at Rigden Ranch?

“As of right now, you can either book strictly camel encounters or capybara encounters, or for 10 bucks more a person you’re allowed to see everything,” explains the owner.

At Rigden Ranch, the residents are everchanging as the ranch strives to grow.

Rigden Ranch
Binx and Jinx are the skunk residents on the ranch. Shayne has raised the skunks and even bottle fed them as babies. – Credit: Emma Widmar

All of the animals at Rigden Ranch are there because of proper licensing, the facility is under a USDA permit and the DNR grants licensing for the native species.

Farm animals

Rigden Ranch
Jimmy and Squares are always looking for grain or other snacks from visitors. – Credit: Emma Widmar

At this time, Jimmy and Squares, a pair of goats will greet you on the ranch. These standard farm animals pair next to a classic, a handful of chickens.

Tiger, a very adventurous and friendly cat, will serve as your buddy throughout your visit, sure to follow you wherever you go.

Not-so-common creatures

Rigden Ranch
The newest animals to join the pack at Rigden Ranch are a conspiracy of lemurs. There are eight females and one male. – Credit: Emma Widmar
Rigden Ranch
Kune Kune pigs reside on the ranch. These hungry guys are always excited to see visitors near their pen. – Credit: Emma Widmar

There’s a peacock, a turkey, two kune kune pigs named Jeffery and Edward, a macaw, lemurs, a 30-year-old American Gator named Purse, a tortoise, a red kangaroo named Rodger, a pair of skunks named Binx and Jinx and the list goes on.


Although Shayne has a handful of critters and creatures, he is mostly known for his camels.

Rigden Ranch
Newton, Peanut and Dufus enjoy fetching snacks from the hands of visitors in addition to giving rides to children and others. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Newton, Peanut, and Dufus are the stars when it comes to the ranch. They can’t be forgotten.

“They’re 2,000-pound bundles of joy,” comments the owner. “Each camel, honestly works about 30 days a year, out of 365, that’s pretty good. These guys get to relax a lot.”

“Our first month open and we had over 80 reservations,” notes Shayne. ‘It was a pretty good first month I’d say.”

During the first month, people have had an up-close and personal experience with Capybaras too.


An experience that people have been chasing after is getting close to Capybaras, a giant rodent that is oh, so cute.

“People are just madly in love with these creatures,” says Shayne. “These guys are such an internet craze because they’re known for being friendly.”

Kelso and Jackie are the two capybaras who’ve been in the limelight lately.

They can be fed along with many of the other animals on the ranch.

Rigden Ranch
Capybaras enjoying some relaxation between animal encounters. – Credit: Emma Widmar
Rigden Ranch
Capybaras at Rigden Ranch are eager to meet new people on the ranch. They are always eager to be fed a carrot or sweet potato. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Check it out

Rigden Ranch
Purse is a long-time resident of Jo Don Farms and now finds herself loving life as a member of Rigden Ranch. She is used for educational purposes and has a history of visiting schools and helping people learn more about wildlife. – Credit: Emma Widmar

“Over the years, I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to fall into this spot. I’ll never say that I 100% did this by myself because there were so many hands that helped me,” says Rigden.

To see what is happening on the ranch, book an experience online.

Rigden Ranch will continue to grow and transform as time goes on the property will expand, more opportunities will be offered, and the chance to make memories will continue.

Find this new business on Facebook and Instagram. Their email is and their website provides more about what’s happening on the ranch.

Rigden Ranch
Rodger at Rigden Ranch is fluffy, friendly, and loves to hop around. – Credit: Emma Widmar

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