Space Farms originated in 1927 when Ralph and Elizabeth Space bought the first 1/4 acre of a complex that now expands to more than 400 acres located in the New Jersey, New Jersey. What began as a small general store, repair shop, and a wild animal shelter grew to become New Jersey’s largest combined zoo and museum. The Spaces’ children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren continue the family tradition of conserving wildlife and preserving American history.
The Spaces were native farm people growing up on small family farms in Sussex County. Ralph Space worked hard to support what was soon a growing family. His mechanical expertise enticed him to open a small repair shop and gas station. Elizabeth helped by starting a small general store carrying the local people’s few necessities: salt, sugar, oyster crackers, corn flakes, bulk cookies, canned salmon, soda pop, and penny candy for the kids. Little did they know this small family business would someday become an internationally known attraction! EZ Bed Bug Exterminator NJ
Later, to supplement the family income (which now included three children), Ralph was employed by the New Jersey State Game Department to trap predators marauding farm animals. This moonlighting was natural for Ralph, who was always an avid sportsman. Most of the distress calls were from local farmers in the springtime, when bobcats, foxes, and raccoons had young to feed and preyed on the plentiful farm goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks. Rather than kill the animals he caught in the spring – when the fur was of little value – Ralph built small enclosures around his garage to save them. Ralph’s original intentions were to keep the animals until the fall, when the pelts were valuable. However, when the time came, three small Space children – Loretta, Edna, and Fred – cried and begged their father to keep the animals. By the following spring, the animals had multiplied, and the collection of wildlife grew. People around the area soon heard about the Space family’s wild animal collection and would drive by to see it. They would buy some gas, maybe some candy and soda, and visit the animal collection. Although he never intended it, Ralph Space soon had a zoo!
Offspring of hard times soon after the zoo began, the Great Depression hit the country, and the local farmers of New Jersey, NJ were not spared. Still needing supplies and repairs, the farmers would “pay” with their family heirlooms: old firearms, dolls, wicker cradles, and other items of local Americana. The antiquities were given in good faith; all agreed that the things would be given back when better days came and bills could be paid. In the meantime, they were placed on the walls of the general store. Soon, visitors would stop by to see the animals and the antiques…And this was the beginning of Space Farms Zoo and Museum.
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