Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh Yes!

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My three kids only feet away from a lion.  Sounds like the content of a nightmare, but at Space Farm in Sussex, New Jersey the experience was enjoyable as well as educational.  We went on their special Teddy Bear Day, a day in which children enter the zoo free of charge if they bring a stuffed bear companion, and had a great experience being so close to some amazing animals in the middle of the beautiful farmland countryside.

imageWe especially enjoyed watching the lion sleeping as he looked so much like a harmless domestic cat lying in the shade.  We also enjoyed seeing the adult tigers feed from bottles of the zookeepers just like kittens.  The baby tigers were active and mischief makers that reminded us of our own little cubs and their antics.  Bears from all over the world are also on display including one roly poly bear from the Himalayas who was so chubby my kids commented he looked like a giant Pom Pom.

We all enjoyed hand feeding the many varieties of deer and livestock the kernels of corn available in vending machines or at the snack shack.  My children laughed as the many animal tongues liked their fingers.   I was happy to see the well-thought-out placement of hand sanitizer bottles near every feeding area.

My children spent a good portion of our time at the park enjoying the swing sets and climbers in the presence of Lemurs and black bears and not far from the roars of the feeding cats.  Feeding time in the park is not for the faint of heart as animal carcasses are distributed to all the carnivores.  It is announced ahead of time, and the hovering opportunistic vultures are a good indication that dead animals are in the cages.  We elected not to witness the carnage, and took a break to swing and slide and work some energy off.

We ate lunch at the onsite pizzeria.  The food was good, though, there were some pesky flies inside that we disliked fighting.  We ordered chicken Parmesan subs and cheese pizza.  Space Farms does allow outside food and though limited there are some picnic tables to eat at.

The 100-acre farm also houses some fun Americana items including old-fashioned toys, Currier and Ives sleighs, rooms full of antique cars and even a prairie schooner used to cross the plains.  My kids enjoyed looking at all the glow-in-the-dark minerals in the dark room and the indoor waterfall.  There is a lot to see and take in during a visit to Space Farm.

imageThere is also an extensive collection of Native American artifacts as well as many animals who have been preserved by the onsight taxidermists.  12 foot tall Goliath stands guard near the fireplace.  A Kodiak grizzly who was the star of the farm until the 90s, Goliath’s size is astounding and holds a Guiness Book record for largest bear.image

Space Farms breeds tiger cubs for conservation programs.  The animals they take in have all been either injured or were laboratory animals.  All animals we saw were in good condition and appeared healthy, active and well taken care of overall.

We are planning to return next summer on Teddy Bear day.  Even if mom gets stuck packing the Bears around all day, it is worth the savings and the memories.  Next year we’ll take smaller bears.image

We definitely agree that Space Farms is “Grrrreat”!  Our kids were exhausted and went to bed immediately at bedtime after a day walking and playing in the company of the beasts.  Any activity that wears my active children down against resisting sleep is a successful one in my book.

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New York Air Show–Fast and Furious

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The New York Air Show at Stewart Airport was indeed full of fast and incredible aerial performances.  However, the venue needs some changes to avoid furious spectators on the ground.

My email to the PR Director and her rapid and timely response follow:

The Response

Thanks for the feedback Stacy. We take all suggestions seriously. As you may know, this was our first time hosting the show here and our first day always experiences issues that we seek to address a d refine and improve. Our parking setup will be different today. All of the vendors will now be required to sell drinks and patrons will be allowed to enter the gate with a bottle of water.

We hope you will join us again as next year’s show will only get better as we better prepare for the large crowds here who obviously love air shows. We will have a whole year to plan and tweak our layout and recruit volunteers.

Again, thanks for attending our first event and we pledge to work hard to earn back your trust.

Cathy Bassett

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My Original Email

On Aug 29, 2015 10:46 PM
Hello,

My family and friends attended the show at Stewart on Saturday, and though we weren’t disappointed in the flight demonstrations and performances, we do feel the venue needs improvements.

First of all, the absence of signs indicating which lane to be in led to confusion and some dangerous road conditions as drivers cut each other off or fought to be first in line. If additional signs are not a possibility, perhaps the placement of law enforcement officials could be looked at in order to better guide the traffic patterns.

Secondly, we missed any signs or notices regarding the cost of parking. We knew we needed to pay to park, but as we traveled in separate vehicles, I only took $10 from my bag which stayed in the other vehicle, resulting in my having insufficient funds for parking and subsequently my having to pull out of the long line in order to wait for my husband to bring me additional funds. Had I known the parking cost or seen it posted, I would have been prepared to pay the fee instead of losing valuable time remedying the problem.

Lastly, and most importantly, something must be done to decrease the long lines and lack of sufficient vendors for water. We brought three children under 5, and 2 bottles of water which, we turned over upon entering the venue. Our friends brought along their 75 year-old mother. We understand the desire to make a profit, but at the cost of health and basic human needs it is not excusable, and quite frankly inhumane to make people wait an hour for a couple bottles of overpriced water. Either in the future, allow people to bring in at least one water bottle per person; provide water only vendors; or provide temporary water coolers to avoid what happened today–long lines, flaring tempers, and miserable customers. My family and friends left early in order to remedy our children’s and our elderly friend’s need for water.

Though, we love air shows and are true patriots, unless conditions improve by next year, we will not return to the venue. I appreciate your reading this email and taking these concerns seriously. I know I am not alone in my criticisms of the venue as I heard these concerns over and over again in line as I waited and on the bus to the parking lot.

Please, feel free to share this email with anyone empowered to make improvements.

Sincerely,

Stacee Nunez

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