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On Sunday afternoon, Matthew, Roman, Bella and I headed over to explore a place that we’ve been wanting to hike for awhile — Jungle Habitat. Jungle Habitat is located in our town. M. had ridden its trails on his dirt bike years ago, but I’d never been. It was a Warner Brothers-owned theme park that opened in the summer of 1972, and closed in October 1976. The park contained well over 1,500 animals. The park featured a drive-through safari section, which allowed for wild animals to roam free and approach vehicles as they slowly drove through. Riders potentially could observe peacocks, baboons, camels, elephants, llamas, giraffes, and Siberian tigers in this section, either in their own cars or on board one of the available buses. Many of the animals would climb atop the cars, bringing them to a halt, and signs were posted along the route to warn visitors to keep their windows closed.

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Sadly, the park was plagued with problems from the outset. A man was attacked by lions in the drive-through safari and later a woman was bitten by a baby elephant. Several of the park’s animals contracted tuberculosis and there were frequent reports of wild animals escaping into local residential areas.

For years after it closed, the site’s deteriorated buildings remained, and rumors of decaying carcasses as well as animals still roaming the property, attracted curiosity seekers. Accounts of such explorations were published in Weird NJ magazine, and on its website. Today, the property is under the management of Ringwood State Park and the area has become popular with dog walkers, mountain bikers, trail runners and equestrians. There are still rumors of African/White-tailed deer hybrids and exotic birds roaming those forests today.

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We didn’t see any exotic animals during our hike, but I did hear what sounded like monkeys in the woods not far from us. I have quite an imagination…it was probably just birds. However, a black bear did cross the trail in front of us! (Black bears are native to this area, so no big surprise there.) 😉 There is definitely something eery about the place though. Oh, and it’s almost entirely covered in poison ivy! I am glad we finally got up there, but I’m not sure we’ll plan a return visit anytime soon. I did get some pretty pictures though.

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Credit for the old photographs/postcards to http://abnf.co/. All other photographs by me. Credit for the history to Wikipedia.

Hope you’re having a lovely week so far! xo

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