What is the Catskill Game Farm?

B. Miller
B. Miller
Rabbits were kept at the Catskill Game Farm.
Rabbits were kept at the Catskill Game Farm.

The Catskill Game Farm was a zoo in Catskill, New York that was open for 73 years until closing on October 9, 2006. The game farm was both a zoo and a hands-on farm, where children could feet and pet animals. It closed due to declining attendance, financial troubles and a new state regulation applied to an attraction at the Catskill Game Farm, a water play area called a "Splash Pad." Though the splash pad at the Catskill Zoo was functioning properly, another one in the area was not, leading to the new regulations.

The Catskills Game Farm contained animals, such as deer.
The Catskills Game Farm contained animals, such as deer.

The zoo was founded in 1933 by Roland Lindemann. It opened with just a few farm animals, including donkeys, deer, goats and sheep. It was officially recognized as a zoo in 1958 by the United States Department of Agriculture. Lindemann's daughter, Kathie Schultz, still owned and operated the Catskill Game Farm at the time of its closing.

At its peak, the zoo occupied over 1,000 acres. It featured about 2,000 animals from over 150 species and various parts of the world. The big question at the time of the Catskill Game Farm closing was where all of these 2,000 animals would go. Animal rights activists became especially concerned about the destinations of these exotic and domestic creatures.

Most of the animals from the Catskill Game Farm were sold in an open auction on 18 October 2006. Activists were concerned that some of the exotic animals sold would be used in what is known as a "canned hunt," where these animals are control-released in a restricted area and then hunted for sport. Best Friends, an animal rights coalition, organized a "compassionate bidding effort" that day and was able to purchase 200 animals that are now safely living in sanctuaries.

According to a press release from Best Friends, a warthog named Louise purchased for $9,000 US Dollars (USD) was the most expensive animal sold at the auction. Other animals sold included "two white rhinos, four vervet monkeys, several aoudads, nilgai, a European boar, a warthog, pygmy donkeys, llamas, pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, ducks and pigeons." The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) supervised the auction but were concerned that some animals were sold to unlicensed dealers that may have been associated with canned hunts.

Many of the machinery, rides and attractions part of the Catskill Game Farm were also auctioned off, though the land was not. This Catskill, New York zoo is not the only zoo closing -- others are frequently following suit, due in large part to declining attendance and pressure from animal rights groups such as Best Friends or the HSUS. Many people enjoyed visiting zoos as children, but this family pastime is slowly becoming more difficult to find.

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Discussion Comments


Feryll - You may have a point there about zoos not being the best places for animals, but whatever your opinion, you have to admit that the fact that most of the animals were sent to safe homes after the zoo closed is something to be thankful for.

I am all for hunting and fishing and getting back to nature. However, I really don't see how there can be much sport in hunting animals that have been living in zoo for most of their lives -- and maybe all of their lives. For goodness sake, the animals are practically tame. Why would you want to shoot them when they will practically eat from your hands? Where is the sport in that?


@Sporkasia - I'm sure the Catskill Game Farm brings back a lot of fond memories for many people. However, I always feel a little sad for the animals when I visit one of those places. Seeing the animals confined is not the best way for kids to see them in my opinion. I would much rather my niece and nephew see the animals moving about freely.

Also, I don't care for the practice of taking animals out of their natural habitats so we can watch them in a zoo or on a "farm." I have never been to the Catskills but I'm guessing that there are not any indigenous white rhinos running around in the woods there.


I actually had the opportunity to visit the Catskill Game Farm several times before it closed in 2006. I thought the farm was an amazing place simply because of the collection of animals that most anyone could appreciate. However, I was really sad when the zoo closed because I knew so many children would miss out on the same opportunity I had had.

The area always seems a little less alive when I visit since the closing of the zoo. Of course this may also have something to do with the general decline of this area because of financial struggles. Still, the zoo was an amazing place to spend the day.

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    • Rabbits were kept at the Catskill Game Farm.
      By: rusugrig
      Rabbits were kept at the Catskill Game Farm.
    • The Catskills Game Farm contained animals, such as deer.
      By: satori
      The Catskills Game Farm contained animals, such as deer.