Bensons Animal Farm
July 23, 2014 07:20:10 (EDT)|
Mike, apparently you are stealing Dane Cook 's material. Try something original next time.
Mike July 21, 2014 10:07:58 (EDT)
I remember I had always wanted to go to Benson's Animal Farm when I was a kid. My dad always promised me we would go, but he was a hard working guy and would drink heavily on the weekends. He would always say after he woke from a hangover "Benson's isn't going anywhere" I want to go there and ride a ride to smash my teeth out!
dale July 11, 2014 19:02:31 (EDT)
I feel very lucky to have had the memories of benson's while growing up.I think the pic of the woman on the elephant, holding a child, is my mother holding my brother...also that she knew the trainer of the lions and somewhere in her old photos owned by my sister is a pic of her lying with the lions...I barely remember the day, but we were allowed to stand outside the enclosure and watched her...also remember being able to ride as small children on the giant tourtoises...Ifeel fortunate that we had bensons then and remember going there often,the archive pics brought back great memories...I have decided to adopt an elephant thru tenn. refuge for my grand children, after reading an article about murderess mary(how horrible!)...my daughters truck broke down in Erwin today and while looking for somewhere for them to visit in the area I came across the article,which also made me realize how fortunate my children were to even ride on an elephant ,something my grandchildren will probably never have be able to do...so lets adopt one and be thankful they still walk our earth...the pics in the archives brought back a flood of wonderful, fun filled memories....great job to all!
Toni July 11, 2014 13:26:18 (EDT)
Wow, I have not been on this board in a long time. I heard of Mrs. Guill's passing and it brought me back. A very special family - many happy memories in that house. Dot....this is not the board for you. It is sad when people waste their energy on negativity that cannot change things. The animals during that time may not have had the best exhibits in the country, but I would say their care was among the best and they were loved.
Kevin July 11, 2014 00:48:04 (EDT)
Sarah: I worked at Benson's during the summers of 1979 and 1980 in the ride area. Benson's did have a train (that was my job, train operator) but it wasn't a "Clown Train". The reason I got the job was because the engine in the train was a tractor engine so the operator had to be a licensed driver. At the time most of the ride operators were 15 or younger. I just happened to be applying when the Provenchers (who had just bought Benson's) found this out. I was asked if I had a license and was hired.
NANCY DANIELS July 4, 2014 09:37:45 (EDT)
Bret June 21, 2014 07:50:28 (EDT)
Thanks Jay. Great loss of a great lady. RIP Jenny Guill. You are remembered and put smiles on more faces than you ever knew.
Jay June 20, 2014 17:05:49 (EDT)
We have lost another one from park, Jenny Guill passsed away yesterday. Jenny was eveybody's mother and loved my all. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Guill family many who also worked at the park over the years.
Laurie Galbo June 11, 2014 12:18:49 (EDT)
I recently bought a collection of elephants that had belonged to Mr. Provencher and learned that Benson's is likely to do a new exhibit. If you would have any interest in these, please give me a call at (603) 770-2225.
Steve (webmaster) June 9, 2014 16:59:05 (EDT)
Sarah June 7, 2014 22:54:52 (EDT)
Hello, I'd appreciate a little help possibly solving a mystery. Anyone who remembers Benson's well, they had amusement park rides at one time correct? Please take a look at this http://abandonedplaces.livejournal.com/2590731.html and let me know if they ever had a ride like the one mentioned here. Even better would be anyone who knows what might have happened to it. Thanks in advance for any information!
Don Himsel 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/
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