Jungle Habitat

Jungle Habitat (7/12/2010)

I'm not sure I ever visited Jungle Habitat as a kid (my mother says I didn't) but Laura did. Warner Brothers opened the famous car safari in West Milford, New Jersey in 1972 but closed it after the Halloween weekend of 1976 when residents of West Milford narrowly voted down WB's request for expansion of the park. It existed only four years and yet holds a very nostalgic place in the hearts of many New Jerseyans who were kids between those years. It's closing engendered many urban legends about rotting animal carcasses and escaped or abandonded animals. Even since its recent reopening as a hiking and biking area it is not without controversy: not even three weeks ago (June 24, 2010), a local man and his dog were attacked by a bear within the park. Bear traps were set on the path where the incident occurred and eventually the bear was caught and euthanized.

Laura and I took the day off from work today and decided to explore the area. Armed with this map, we had a blast. We first walked from the gate to the huge parking lot south of the airport (visiting a quarry above the airport on the way), then through the tunnels into the petting zoo area where we wandered around for a bit. We next took Safari 1 north to the Tiger Pen where we found a pile of old bones left by the tigers who lived here (there were also bones scattered around the ground between the two wooden structures within the pen). From here we went south outside the fenced area of the park on a trail within Norvin Green (though not blazed) and visited two tanks at Jungle Habitat's southern end before heading back north on a parallel path which passed more cages (both paths are green on the map). Back on Safari 1 we continued all the way north before swinging south, taking one additional inner road before walking back up to the car.

Total distance today was just over 6 miles in about 3.5 hours.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

The old entrance structure ...

... still remains

Empty kiosk

Walking up to the parking lot


[Photo by Laura]

West Milford airport


Quarry south of airport

View of airport

Plane taking off


Parking lot

It's huge

And crumbling

Walking to the upper lot

The upper lot

Flatbed in upper lot

Tunnels led to ...

... petting zoo

[Photo by Laura]

Inside the tunnel

Rusted handrail

Welcome fountain

Person who rented strollers ...

... stayed in this booth

[Photo by Laura]

Beautiful overgrown path

Concrete pillars


Crumbling wall

Near the aviary?

Inside the netting, looking out

Outside looking in

Another petting zoo station

Imagine the bustle 40 years ago

Road crumbled to five feet below

Lots of wooden steps on left


Netting of aviary?

Or monkey cage?

Hearing sounds on Safari 1

Bugs mating on Queen Anne's Lace

Cable in path

Zillions of saplings since park closure

Monarch butterfly

Entrance to Tiger Pen loop

Inside Tiger Pen

Pile of bones

They were real!

One of two structures in tiger pen

Path south from Safari 1

Climbing hill outside safari fence

View uphill

Laura keeps climbing

And climbing

Barbed wire

Animal carrying pen?

One of two tanks

Tanks from above

Half underground

Top of tank

Red-spotted purple butterfly

A nest with an egg!

Raspberry hunting

Another cage inside park

Fence along baboon area

Panels above prevent climbing fence

Downhill on Safari 1

Huge boulders on hill

View of Norvin Green mountains

Powerline cut

Wildflowers in powerline cut

Steep downhill on Safari 1

Fallen tree in road


Wooden fencing

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