Space Farms Zoo and Museum is located on Route 219 in Sussex, New Jersey.
The location for the zoo and museum dates back to 1927 when Ralph Space and his wife Elizabeth bought a small piece of land upon which they opened up a general store and gas station and which they also used as a small repair shop.
The zoo ‘element’ of the enterprise began as the result of Ralph needing to find a supplementary job to enable him to support his growing family as he now had three young children to also support.
To do this, he took a job with the New Jersey State Game Department to trap animals that used to threaten the local farming livestock. This would ultimately lead to the zoo’s formation.
Animals such as bobcats, raccoons and foxes were the main ‘enemies’ of the local farmers but instead of killing them, Ralph decided to build small enclosures around his garage in order that he could keep them from springtime to autumn when he could then sell their fur pelts which would be more valuable with the coming of winter.
However, when that time came, it was Ralph’s three small children who begged him to spare them. The result was that the animals multiplied so much that people from miles around would drive-by the Space family’s home just to see this ever growing wild animal collection and, from that point on, the idea of a zoo was formed.
Today, the zoo – which has continued to be run by the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Ralph Space – is home to tigers, lions, hyena, wild ponies, timber wolves, bears, deer, leopards and many more species.
Its original ¼ acre of business space now spans a zoo and museum which covers over 400 acres and is the largest private zoo collection of North American wildlife in the world.
The zoo’s museum showcases American history with over 50 antique cars and motorbikes, rifles and weapons from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. There’s also a doll museum, a primitive tool barn, a blacksmith shop, a fluorescent mineral theatre, an Eskimo exhibit and the museum also showcases many old carriages and wagons that have travelled all across the USA.