Archive for the ‘Abandoned Zoo’ Category

Howling of the Hybrids

The Abandoned UConn Kennels

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

It’s rare for me to do this, but I feel like I must speak my mind. I’m a writer. I’ve been doing this since I was eleven years old. It has been my one true gift as far back as I can remember, whether I wanted it to be or not. And as a writer, you want people to read your words. You want people to listen to your stories and feel your voice. But not this time. This is one of those rare pieces where I ask that you discontinue reading. This article really isn’t for the faint of heart. As a dog lover, this story rocked me to my core. When I had first heard of this place, I didn’t think there would be much to it. But the more digging I did, the more horrors I uncovered. I’m talking animal abuse. Genetic experimentation. Dark science. Murder. Grim subjects, all around. It’s one of those tales so bizarre, you can’t believe that you’ve never heard about it before. Again, I ask that you discontinue here. This story is not going to be pretty.

If you must continue reading, then allow me to set the stage: The University of Connecticut, the late 1970’s. A graduate student conducts the successful breeding of male coyotes with female beagle dogs to produce what we have come to call “coydogs.” Three generations are successfully created. They are housed in a kennel outside of the Biological Science unit in the UConn Forest. Though the experiments are bizarre, the animals are said to have been well taken care of. That is until 1983. One of the pups is kidnapped by two unknown assailants. She was then tortured and beaten to death. The story caught national attention. It severely derailed the genetic experimentation program, but it attempted to continue none the less. And unfortunately, this was not the first and would not be the last tragic animal death during this time on campus. After this unspeakable tragedy and it’s founder’s graduation, the entire experiment is believed to have collapsed. But the kennels where her work was conducted still stand.

It was late spring of 2020 when we finally made our trek into the UConn Forest to find what was left of this phantom facility. May is the perfect time of year for a good hike. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. But I warn you now that this place is not an easy find. If you do your research, follow the directions, and crack the code you will find this place no problem. If you don’t, you can and will spend hours combing through the forest looking for it. Full disclosure, that’s what happened to us. We parked in the wrong spot, and almost didn’t end up finding what we were looking for. The UConn Forest truly is just so vast and so full of the weirdest things imaginable. You could honestly spend days out there and never see the same thing twice. On our journey, we came across abandoned lawn equipment, countless fire pits, wild dogs, trails to nowhere, and a group of bros on a fishing trip. But eventually, we solved the riddle and found the old facility. And although there may not be too much left, this place certainly was quite creepy.

First coming upon the abandoned kennel, it very much looks like an old zoo paddock. An eight foot tall wooden fence surrounds the perimeter. There is even a swinging wooden gate to enter the kennel that’s very reminiscent of Jurassic Park. But this place is much more like that movie’s sequel, if you know what I mean. The weeds and plants have grown wild and dangerous. Some old wiring and tech has been left behind, but it’s all been rusted to Hell. At the far east corner, there is an old observation window. Most of the wood has rotted, but it still provides a chilling window into the past. The true sight to see here though are the two enclosures. Both surrounded by old chain link fences, there are two small  concrete doghouses standing side by side to each other. They have both been defaced with graffiti, and completely barren inside. One even has an old chair positioned on top of it for some reason. The place is also full of birds and chipmunks, who have clearly moved back in to reclaim this forgotten facility as their own.

We were both quiet on our long walk back to the car. I don’t know why. We were hot. We were hungry. But we also just couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of sorrow. It was tough to find this place. But it has also been tough to write about it. Very few have covered it in the past, and I can see why. There is so very little information out there. And what I did find, I wish I hadn’t. Much like Tiger King or Wild Wild Country, I just can’t quite believe that stuff like this actually happened. It’s all just so bizarre and truly beyond belief. But I guess that’s what makes stuff like the abandoned UConn Kennels stand out from the crowd. There may not be too much to see at the actual site. It’s no Undercliff Sanatorium or Mansfield Training School. But walking through the abandoned kennels, I could just tell that bad things had happened here. There was just such grimness and hopelessness nestled amongst the sprouting trees. This is a place that never should’ve existed. It is just one of those stories that I wish I could forget, but never will.

The Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019

Close out the year by checking out our new video on the Top 5 Abandoned Places of 2019! We’ve been all over the East Coast this year, and thank you to all that have been along for the ride.

The Bruin Ruins

The Abandoned Boston Bear Dens

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’ve never liked going to the zoo. Ever since I was just a kid. I know that they do a lot of good. I know that many of them help rehabilitate wildlife. I know that they bring so much joy to so many people. It’s just the idea of these amazing animals in captivity where they don’t belong has never sat well with me. I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. Maybe it’s because I grew up with more dogs in my house than siblings. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always felt like I had a stronger connection to animals than other people. I don’t know, and frankly, this line of thought is getting depressing. Moving on. We’ve covered a couple abandoned zoos in the past, most notably the Shade Swamp Shelter in Central Connecticut. They’ve always been kind of creepy. But this place was a bit more unique. For starters, this is only a forgotten piece of one of the largest zoos in New England. Also, it currently stands in the middle of the biggest city in the North Eastern United States – Boston, Massachusetts.

This is Franklin Park. Say hello, everyone. It is more, or less, the equivalent of Boston’s Central Park. As in, it is the largest park within the city limits. First opening in the early nineteen hundreds, one of the key features of the park is the zoo. When it’s doors first opened in 1908, Franklin Park Zoo was free to the public, covered a great distance across the park, and housed many different exotic animals. For many years, the zoo was a big hit. However, it unfortunately was just hitting its stride as the rest of the country began to fall on hard times during the mid 1920’s. She sadly fell into disrepair, until 1958 when the grounds were acquired by the local government. The zoo was brought back to life in a big way, and flourishes even today. But during this time of renovation, certain sectors of the grounds were cut off and left to rot. One such part are the now abandoned Bear Dens of the Long Crouch Woods. The animals, of course, did find other homes in the expanded zoo. But their old enclosures were deemed to expensive to take down.

March is Lassie’s birthday month, and we go on a short mini-vacation every year to celebrate. This year, we had chosen Boston as our destination. Naturally, we looked for at least one abandoned place in the city to check out. Truth be told, I hadn’t been to Boston in four years. I had filmed plenty of movies and commercials up there when I was younger, but hadn’t been around that way in a long time. After a bit of searching, we both became captivated by this place and decided to pay it a visit. Lucky for us, we got some pretty decent weather. Also lucky for us, Franklin Park is only a few blocks walk from the nearest T-station. We made the trip in the early morning, so as to get the most out of our day. The park was mostly quiet, given that it was a school day and all. It is also full of amenities, including the aforementioned zoo, a school, and a playground. Unfortunately, we chose not to bring our camera since we had plans in the city later that afternoon. So all of these photos were taken on our phones.

The abandoned Bear Dens lie in the northern most point of the park, also known as the Long Crouch Woods. And I can honestly say, they are very striking. Against the grey backdrop of the Spring New England skyline, the old bear dens are rundown but still very grand in stature. All of the metal framework is quite rusted, and much of the stone is crumbling. Yet the sheer size and elegance of it all gives this place a very sturdy and unique look to it all. The mix of grey stone and brown metal make for a strong outward appearance. At the very top of the stone frame, the carvings of two bears and can still be seen. If you’re feeling daring, you can still peek into a few of the old sleeping quarters in the back. A very nice Park Ranger did come to check up on us. He unfortunately did not have much information to tell us, but let us take all of the pictures that we wanted. Which was nice. In my experiences, security guards can be a real hit or miss. Some can be really cool, like this gentleman. Others, however, can be real assholes.

We stayed for a decent amount of time. There isn’t too much to see here, but it is a really cool place. As far as I know, the abandoned Bear Dens are completely legal to visit. Just be cool about it, as the Park Rangers obviously keep a close eye on this place. And rightfully so. There was hardly any graffiti or vandalism here, but there were some rather unsavory characters snooping around after we left. Much like the bears that once roamed this unique place, it is has a rough exterior and a certain majesty about it. We of course visited the regular zoo once we were finished exploring, which I highly recommend. As I said earlier, I usually don’t like visiting zoos. But this place is very special. I personally found the hyenas to be my favorite exhibit. The park has so much history to it. The bear dens still stand tough after all these years. The zoo itself is so full of life. And just because you didn’t like something for years, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind.