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About Us

Over 500 Live Wild Animals & 100 Species

As you tour the wild friends and family at Space Farms, you will have the opportunity to visit and observe the Space Farms Zoo, which includes bobcats, tigers and lions, buffalo, hyena, wild ponies, timber wolves, various types of foxes, bears and deer, leopards, monkeys, jaguars, coyotes, llamas, yaks, snakes, and hundreds more. This private collection of North American wildlife is the largest in the world — even rare, exotic species thrive in the natural Space Farms environment.

a group of people sitting in the grass

Our Record-Holding Zoo

Goliath — 2000 pounds, 12 ft. tall
Guinness World Records
Lived at Space Farms 1967 – 1991

LIFE LONGEVITY RECORDS

Bobcat — 33 years
Jaguar — 21 years
Puma — 22 years

a dog that is standing in the kitchen
a cat that is looking at the camera
a turtle in the grass

History of Space Farms Zoo

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. 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, both 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 few necessities the local people needed: 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!

Later, to supplement the family income (which now included 3 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, fox, and raccoon 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. When the time came, however, 3 small Space children – Loretta, Edna and Fred – cried and begged their father to keep the animals. By the next 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!

a tiger looking at the camera
a man sitting on a motorcycle

Offspring of hard times soon after the zoo began, the Great Depression hit the Country, and the local farmers 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 items 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.

As time went on, the children worked diligently with their parents. Fred Space took a keen interest in building up the zoo, and Ralph’s enthusiasm for collecting spurred the museum on. “Grandma” Elizabeth Space worked in the store right through its evolution.

Today the third & fourth generations – Fred’s children, son Parker and his wife Jill, daughter Lori and her husband Doug, as well as Parker and Jill’s son Hunter – are handling the lion’s share of the day-to-day work.

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