Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Review of Space Farms Zoo & Museum

Are you ready to take another day trip with us?  Let's head on over to Space Farms Zoo and Museum in Wantage! Yes, Space Farms is still open, and yes, it's probably just like you remember it.


Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are my own. It is NOT a sponsored post and no one paid me or provided me with anything for free to write it. Happy Reading!

Space Farms Zoo and Museum in Wantage holds many memories for me. I recall going there on a field trip as a child, and seeing the great bear Goliath with my own little eyes (I even bought a stuffed animal of him in the souvenir shop). Back then you could feed the animals, and you were permitted to slide crackers to them down a little metal chute (you can still feed animals today but only in designated areas with special food!). Here's Goliath now, which is a little sad in some ways, but I guess I understand the zoo's desire to keep his memory alive, so to speak.

Goliath was alive when I first saw him as a child.  Here he is now!

Fast forward 30 years or so and I can tell you about visiting Space Farms with The Jersey Momma's Boy and my nephew, Joey.  Joey was two at the time, and our son was 3, I think.  It was the last happy trip we would take with Joey.  The last place we would see the boys, two sweet cousins, playing together.  Because a few months later, cancer would come and take Joey away from us.  Yes, cancer.  Brain cancer.  He passed away shortly before his fourth birthday.  He was my nephew. My adorable, mischievous, silly, funny nephew and I loved him with all of my heart.  So I dedicate this blog entry to him, and I hope it helps everyone realize how important these little day trips are, and how much they can really mean in the grand scheme of things.

Joey
Joey at Space Farms

What is Space Farms Zoo and Museum?

I was always fascinated by the name of this place.  It sounds kind of like an interstellar animal haven or something, but really it's named after its owners, the Space Family.  It has a rich history that you can read about here.  They house over 500 animals and 100 different species.  There is a museum on site where you can see antique cars, farm equipment, artifacts and more.  So much to see!  There are free roaming ducks and chickens and even a playground.  They are open April through October.  It's been around for 85 years, and according to their website, they are the oldest New Jersey attraction still owned and operated by the original family.  Now that's impressive!!  You go, Space family!


Where is Space Farms Located?

Space Farms is located on Rt 519 in Wantage, NJ.  It's "out there" in true Jersey farmland!  But it's a nice ride, very scenic and you will spend enough time there to make the drive worthwhile.

How Much Will it Cost Me?

Always check their website for accurate pricing info, but as of the publication date of this blog entry, tickets for adults are $17.00, children 3-12 are $13.50.  Seniors 65 and up are $15.50.  Parking is free.  Yay for that, Space Farms!!

What Will I See There?

There is honestly so much to see, I don't know where to start.  Space Farms is composed of dirt paths and large stretches of land where you can walk and see a variety of different animals fairly close up.  There are bears, tigers, deer, prairie dogs, birds, snakes, pigs, deer, jaguar, just to name a few.  Check out some of these photos to see what I mean:

The boys and the bear!
Well hello there!
He was smelly, but oh so cool to look at!

There is also a fun playground, which is a nice break from the walking and animal viewing.

Relaxing at the playground.

Okay, here's where you'll laugh, but I don't have a single photo of the museum and antique cars.  Why, you ask?  Because my nephew and the Jersey Momma's Boy had so much fun in this section that they were literally disappearing around every corner to see all the cool things.  I had to move fast to keep up with them, I tell you!  Anyway, there are buildings filled with old cars, farm equipment, rocks and minerals, Native American artifacts and so much more.  The cars were really cool and most of them have little stories about where they came from.

Where Can We Eat at Space Farms?

Space Farms opened a pizzeria on site called Extreme Pizza.  They are open even when the zoo is closed.  However,  it wasn't there when we visited, so I can't attest to the quality.  If you've been to Extreme Pizza and want to add a comment about it below, feel free!  I can, however, whole-heartedly recommend The Chatterbox Drive-In, which is not far down the road in Augusta.  It's an AWESOME 1950's style eatery that is so much fun to visit.  They have great food and a fun atmosphere, with real cars inside.  

Inside the Chatterbox!

Things To Note

Space Farms is over 85 years old.  It is family owned and operated.  It is old (I just said that, right?).  There is history here.  So you can't go in there expecting a brand new, shiny facility.  If you were there 30 years ago like me, you'll find it largely unchanged.  Take, for example, their 'stroller' rental:

Vintage!

And when I was there, we found one bear still in an old-school cage.  




I felt sorry for this big guy.  I don't believe in caging wild animals or making them perform for guests.  If they are in a zoo for educational or rehabilitation purposes, then they should be in a natural setting behind secure fences.  

You'll find mixed reviews online about Space Farms, and most people who complain are complaining about how the animals are kept (like the bear above).  Some complained about the taxidermy in the main entrance hall (but I can understand the taxidermy, as some of the Space animals had been in this zoo for decades and they were part of the zoo's history.  I can understand the Space family wanting to preserve their memories).

Space Farms has some of the longest living wild animals in captivity, so they must be doing something right.  I would hope the state would not let an institution like this abuse its animals for 85 years.  I am not an animal expert or a zoologist,  but I would think that if the state knew something was wrong, they would have shut this place down years ago.  At least I hope they would have.

So if you plan on visiting, know that you are going to an 'old-school' zoo.  That means you will find animals in cages or areas with cement flooring.  If this is something that offends you, you might want to reconsider your trip.

Mr. Jersey Momma with our nephew and our boy.

Jersey Momma Tips:

*There's a lot of walking involved, so wear comfy shoes.

*Bring your own stroller or even a wagon (we had one of those Little Tikes wagons for the boys at the time.  It was very helpful!)

*You are permitted to picnic here (according to their Facebook page) so it is okay to bring your own food and drink!

*Bring hand-sanitizer, just in case you wind up feeding some of the animals!

**Disclaimer:  I was NOT compensated in any way by Space Farms Zoo and Museum for this review.  I just went on a trip and I told you about it because, well, I'm cool like that.

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