Saturday, July 14, 2012

House of 1000 Animals, Lake Placid, New York

If you happened to be in upstate New York (in the beautiful Adirondacks), you could have taken a detour to the "House of 1000 Animals" (founded in 1915) on Route 86 near Lake Placid. This oddball roadside attraction was a sort of zoo, but you could also buy the furs of the wonderful animals that you would see there. Apparently there were lots of minks, some bears, deer, a mountain lion, a llama, a few monkeys, a chupacabra, and other assorted critters. If I was driving by, I would definitely want to stop and see what was going on.

In this picture you can see some of the black bears, which were able to climb a series of ramps and steps up to some platforms. You could even feed them - always a good idea. My favorite trick is to make them grab a marshmallow from a string around my throat. Hilarious!

Deer? Rats of the forest if you ask me. Hey, so THIS is the home of Buster Bear, I always wondered. He owes me $40. I realize that Lake Placid is near Canada, and I have nothing against Canadians (hey, Justin Bieber is Canadian, and he is totally rad!), but why is the Canadian flag on display?

Could that be Buster Bear himself? We can't see his eyes, and I would only be able to tell by that twinkle that only Buster possessed. After this, let's head over to the Chimpanzee Chimp arena. Chimps are 80% water just like us!

At some point the name changed to St. Nick's Animals (you can see part of the sign for Ausable Chasm, which was not far from Lake Placid). I need a full-length mink coat for job interviews, but unfortunately this roadside attraction seems to have closed in 1980; from what I can gather, there is now a restaurant (and/or a gardening center?) in this location.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the House of 1000 Animals!


Nanook said...

Is it any wonder why when Walt opened Disneyland in 1955, that folks musta thought they had died and gone to "amusement park" heaven? It was (and still is) a total departure from what passed for entertainment back in those "innocent times".

TokyoMagic! said...

What about the 30-foot-long man-eating crocodile and the foul-talking Betty White?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, you make a good point! But nowadays, I love the fact that a weird little place like the House of 1000 Animals existed. We need more weird little places!

TokyoMagic!, lucky for us you can still see those attractions at Six Flags Over Texas.

Katella Gate said...

Is this what Cruella DeVil did after she got out of the pokey over that Dalmatian case?

K. Martinez said...

I loved those weird and funky little parks of times past. There's a specific charm about these places that Disney and the big corporate theme parks today can’t capture or duplicate.

Major, That marshmallow trick of yours must’ve been quite a sight to see.

Pilsner Panther said...

This is kind of disgusting, but it's an interesting window on America's cultural past. It's a wonder that they didn't have a "Learn To Skin Your Own Critters!" attraction for the kiddies. Mom and Dad could watch and cheer as little Johnny or Janey ripped the poor animals' hides off, and Mom would get a fox or mink wrap as a souvenir.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the Adirondacks and in the 70s from the time I was 7 years old to age 10 my dad worked at 1000 animals. He was one of the animal caretakers. He fed the animals and cleaned the cages. Because he worked there we got free passes . I loved going there and seeing the animals. I was so proud to tell the tourists "Thats my dad!" when he was inside the animal cages. I remember feeding Buster. He use to have a rope with a can attached and a pully on both ends .you would put a bear biscut in it he would pull it over to him and eat it. I also remember there being a TON of minks there . My dad use to joke the sign should read 100 animals and 900 minks! One time Mrs. Sterling ( the owner ) gave my dad one of the baby goats for me to raise because its mother abandond it. I named her Daisey and raised her on a bottle till she was able eat regular food, I thought I was going to have to give her back, but Mrs Sterling said I could keep her! 1000 animals brings back many fond memories for me .

Anonymous said...

hello. my uncle, Peter Tumbilis, managed this game farm thru the 60s until the time of his death in '76. he and my aunt lived in a small house right in the middle of the park. it was a wonderful place, with the animals well care for (most of them were taken in as 'rescue' animals i believe, so no need to wonder about their treatment. the place was started by Joseph Sterling (it's name was 'Sterling Game Farm' like the one in Ausable Chasm) a mountain climber/trapper as a mink farm.) 'st. nick's animals refers to the white spotted 'reign'deer that were a large part of the petting zoo (along with some llamas). as a child, i was fortunate enough to spend time at their house during most summers and some winter school-breaks as well. it was a lovely place, full of tourist families from both the states and canada. the staff were wonderful people who really cared about the animals. hope this clarifies some stuff.

ElectroSpark said...

Nice post! Found researching where these were from: Slide 1 and Slide 2

Viktoria said...

Hi! I used to live in the Adirondacks as a kid from 1976 until 1982. I remember going there as a kid and have such fond memories of it. Always loved the castle-like appearance of the front facade. I believe it was still in business when we left. Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Local lore has it that the minks were released when 1000 Animals was closed. Now there are beautiful, black squirrels running around Lake Placid: Squinks?

Anonymous said...

It was a wonderful place to go. Loved it when I was a kid.

Tyke said...

Hmmmmmmmmmmm, Thing is you really didn't know the place unless you worked there!
My father was the Manager, for a couple years mid 70's going towards 1980 just before the place closed & I was a grounds & animal caretaker along with a small handful of other worker's for two yrs.
Needless to say during that time there was never one who tied a marsh mellow around his neck, To have a bear remove it!
Never heard of it prior or after my employment there so really don't know where that came about .
I see no mention of the chimp's lil' Mike / pepe/ Big Mike doing stunts on the race track with my dad & his assistant or of them racing in race car's with gas powered motor or the bike race.

No mention of when Mr. Sterling after closing would walk a female Mountain lion named Felix around on a leash/on the grounds.
Later on in mid 70's When Peter Tumbilis passed away, & Butch was manager, Felix gave birth to two beautiful cub's. No mention of the Reese's Monkey named >MUDDER<
/ ""Mother"" who would snuggle up to you & smile showing her teeth and chatter like she was bashful & flirty while cleaning her & mates cage
& Mate who bare his canine teeth to let you know he ment business and jealous as all get up & go!!. & //
or {Mackey}> 'Sub Tailed Macaque' who would get so excite he would sit and chatter to you like he was conversing with you as well
but when he got really excited would bite his arm not to draw blood but to how his offensiveness Being a threat to you what he would do if he got ahold of you!
I myself had my own personal experience with "Felix" who had not been removed or walked after Mr. Sterlings death from her cage & still have the scar's on my thigh to prove it to this very day!
Along with 3 eye witness who worked there at the time & helped get her back into the cage to her cub's.
Prior to my father taking over as Manager, a man by the name of Butch was in charge was right around 75" through 77" Being a employee had it's perks too !
Free admission to just about every affiliate from 1,000 islands & Park Safari in Hemingford Quebec, TO Catskill Game Farm, to Howe Caverns & everything in between.
Mrs. Sterling made sure her employees we taken care of while on vacation!
Esp. If they planned on going to any of the other attractions.
It's a true shame these places are no longer open for business they def. were exciting from day one when I walked into them as a child to day one walking back in as an employee.
I was sad to leave & even more so when I heard the doors closed.
Esp never to reopen again on some of them!
But I do have memories //
good one's// funny one's// teaching one's //
& meeting some inspiring people from all walks of life I thank Mrs. Sterling for making me a part of the history of 1,000 Animals.
The people I worked with will never be forgotten and the times there
I can truly say they were some of the best times of my life as never laugh so hard at certain things & learned first hand what it was to be a wild animal caretaker// a experience I will never forget!
There should be more of these places open for generations here &to come!! Not only was it fun it was educational!!!
Thanks Gordy , kipper & all the others who worked there during time I was there. it will always be a memory of the good times.

dona lawlor said...

Visited this place every year as a child while on vacation with my family some of my best childhood memories include this place wish it was still around to be able to share with my grand daughter

dona lawlor said...

Visited this place every summer in the 70's as a child with my family some of my greatest childhood memories include this place how I wish it was still open so I could create these type of memories with my grand daughter