Bensons Animal Farm
June 6, 2014 13:24:26 (EDT)|
Hello. I'm wondering if anyone would be interested in sharing stories/photos of their Benson's experiences for an upcoming Telegraph column.
I'm particularly interested in shots that I can revisit by standing in the same location the photo was made from. My rephotography can be seen under the 'columnist' tab on the Telegraph's website.
Bret April 25, 2014 07:17:44 (EDT)
Thanks for the great words Lisi. There were many amazing dedicated folks working at Bensons over the years, even way before our 'era'. Not just the animal department. Folks in the office, maintenance, ride department, grounds, food service, etc. Were equally dedicated with their work and the proud of their work. I know of many times such staff would step in to assist with an animal situation or, at least, let a zoo staff person know of an illness, birth or other issues. This was not just a place of employ. It was many things to many people: work, home, pride, family, experience and comraderie - to name a few. Thanks to you too, Jay.
Lisi April 23, 2014 17:48:08 (EDT)
I worked at Benson's (concessions) in the summers of '80 and '81. Yes, the animal enclosures were small and antiquated. HOWEVER, I was always impressed with how hard the animal crew worked to keep the animals as happy as possible, and I do remember many animals getting new pastures where they could run about (Mr E, the zebras, etc.). Also, I was extremely impressed with how Bret handled the elephants. While they were chained up at night, they did go for walks in the parade (don't go there, at least it was some form of exercise) and EVERY DAY after the parade, Bret and Larry would take Queenie and Liz to the other end of the park for a romp in the lake. (And while I am not trying to add fuel to any flames, Liz & Queenie were far better off at Benson's than they ever were at the Hawthorn Corp.) It was obvious watching Bret back then: He cared a great deal for those elephants.
We all learn from our mistakes. Zoos have come a long way in the last century but they still have a long way to go before they could be perfect. Until then, we can only make an effort to learn from the past and quit wasting time condemning it.
Bret April 23, 2014 06:54:58 (EDT)
I'm not trying to stifle anything. However, I have little tolerance for anyone in any situation, taking select negative tidbits of a very long story to create only more negative to satisfy a narrow minded agenda. I have great knowledge of the park, experience with the employess and operations there. I possess a great degree of priviledged experience in the zoo/amusement park business. This, and some open mindedness, allow me to make a more general and educated opinion. That is my simple point for other folks: get Properly informed. This park was fairly anitquated for its time. However, in the final 7+ yrs HUGE strides had been made in animal enclosures, animal husbandry, enrichment programs and education. I know, first hand, dozens of VERY dedicated staff members that worked there. Most that worked directly with the animal collections and many that didnt'...whom, when needed, stepped right in without hestitation to assist if/when needed. The reasons for the park's closure were more complicated than your perceived one. Dot, you may dwell on the 'horror' stories and the negativity. That seems to be your 'happy place'. A few unfortuaate events did occur and exist. The majority of folks, me included, prefer to remember the vast majority of great things that occured There were amazing animals, awesome staff/employees, the great times and many of the awesome plans that were in the works - that time cut short. If you had attended the zoo in the following 9 years, you would have seen great evolution. Dozens of large expanded hoofstock enclosures, enhanced elephant management program, the closure of the antiquated primate house, aviaries, breeding programs, Heck, simply ask other folks, look at old photos/videos .....get better informed.
Dot B. April 21, 2014 09:59:31 (EDT)
Actually, Bret, I said that there were two ways of looking a Benson's. I am actually torn between those two views. One is that is was a happy, happy, happy place that we all loved. But, when I stood in the (tiny) elephant barn at Benson's in 1978 looking at a poor elephant chained to the concrete floor, I realized that elephants required much more space than Benson was providing. I believe that here you are trying to stifle the other point of view and that is that no everything memory of Benson's is a happy one. It was what it was. Why not be honest about it. If the management had not be in way over their heads they may have been able to care for the animals better, more people would have showed up and they would not have gone out of business. I just want to add, that I have been to many zoos and I have never been overcome by the the kind or horrific odor that was in the monkey house at Benson's at any of the others. I felt like I had seen a horror movie that day. And the stories that former Benson's worker told me added much to that horror that I will never forget. Perhaps that person will tell you those stories too (as if you do not already know them) and then you will know where I am coming from.
Jay April 21, 2014 08:09:44 (EDT)
Well said Bret, as I could not have said it that well. As I age I really don't have the patience to deal with the narrow minded.
Bret April 21, 2014 07:28:08 (EDT)
Dot B you are grossly misinformed by one narrow minded ignorant employee. You display a very sad lack of knowledge of zoos, elephants and animals in general. Snippets of what you say are true. You're welcome to your generalized very narrow minded opinion. More facts, information and understanding would make your opinon, more varied and far more valuable. A downside - negative misinformed talk such as yours is loud yet of a very small percentage. The truth is much quieter but stronger. Picking a few select points and washing the whole 'picture' with negativity and ignorance does serve your animal activist agenda. It will quite likely sway a few. Folks with maturity and open mindedness will smart enough to get the 'whole picture'.
Dot B April 19, 2014 20:38:33 (EDT)
In response to Erin Gibson's question about Kay she was "euthanised: using the exhaust from a truck, because of agressivness" http://www.elephant.se/database2.php?elephant_id=2966 We must not be discussed though because that is just how things were done back then.
Dot B. April 19, 2014 20:21:05 (EDT)
I found this message board back in March of 2008. That same month I found that Liz and Queenie, two of Benson's elephants were living at the sanctuary in Tennessee.https://www.elephants.com/ A few days later Queenie died. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this board and about Benson's. My interest in the elephants goes back to 1978, the last time I visited Benson's while it was open. I was horrified to see the way the elephants were kept. I never wanted to go back there again. I did go back though, with a former employee, before the restoration. She told me horror stories of how the animals were treated. She was also pleased when I directed her to this board so that she could reconnect with fellow employees. This is the first time I have been back here in years and I see that there is a bit of a war going on over the exact reason that I have my mixed feelings. It is because there are actually two ways to remember Benson's. One way to remember it is as happy place were families spent time together enjoying exotic animals, the outdoors and rides while the workers bonded together in their common experiences and tasks. But there is also another way to look at it and that is that it was a wholly inadequate way to care for animals. It was not "the norm of the day" as someone here put it. That is why the place went out of business. People did not want to go someplace where the animals were not well cared for. The people who ran the place were clearly in over their heads. The animals truly suffered there, whether or not that is a comfortable thing to think about. Liz may be the only animal from Benson's still alive. She is suffering from TB and a partially paralyzed trunk (from an injury she got while at Benson's). I think that everyone who loved Benson's and cares for the well being of animals should donate to the sanctuary to help feed and care for Liz. I do. https://www.elephants.com/
Karen Turpin April 15, 2014 14:03:35 (EDT)
We would love to bring the kids to Benson's animal Farm for our Easter outting. Will you be open Easter Sunday? How much is the addmission?
Tanya April 11, 2014 20:11:54 (EDT)
Love bensons! Would like to see more benches for everyone at the playground but that's one MINOR thing.
Lee Lavoie April 2, 2014 21:40:50 (EDT)
Benson Park has plenty of animals. You have to look hard because, they are not in cages. I knew the park before and enjoy it more now.
Paul March 17, 2014 17:41:02 (EDT)
At this time the Benson Park Committee has not released any area for additional benches. If you want your name on a list, contact Johnl@friendsofbensonpark.org
Brenda March 11, 2014 18:45:02 (EDT)
I love that the park was restored. Visiting Bensons now brings back so many memories. It is sad that we don't have the original park, however we have something just as beautiful. The land just isn't wasted away.
roddney March 7, 2014 22:14:44 (EDT)
please put life animals back
Norma Geary March 7, 2014 14:03:13 (EDT)
Could someone tell me who to contact to order and donate a bench for the park? Thank you so much.
russell March 4, 2014 20:56:44 (EDT)
When I was very young remember seeing Henry Ford at Bensons and coverseing with Mr Benson, am I imagining that is it true?
Lori February 10, 2014 22:06:08 (EDT)
I'm taking a shot in the dark here but, I'm looking for any information about Chase Wild Animal Farm in Halifax, Ma. It shut down some time around 1960. I heard Chase and Benson's had some connection, not sure if this is correct. The internet isn't really helping me with any info. If anyone out there could help me, I would really appreciate it. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you very much
Donna January 24, 2014 21:12:02 (EDT)
I am looking for an old park map of Benson's around the 1980's time frame. Arthur was my father in law and I would like to give the map to my son, Arthur's grandson. If anyone has one or knows where I can find one I would appreciate the info. Thanks
Jay January 23, 2014 20:31:28 (EDT)
Ann perhaps you should read the entire post about Benson's before you make a dumb comment that has no bearing on anything current. There are no animals there and have not been any for over 20 years.
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