Posts Tagged ‘Sherwood Forest’

Lambs Become Lions – The Abandoned Sherwood Forest Zoo

Posted: February 22, 2023 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Amusement Park, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Boston, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Hartford, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Park, Abandoned Pennsylvania, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Abandoned Zoo, Art, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, Exploration, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Graveyard, Hartford, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Love, Magic, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing
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Lambs Become Lions

The Abandoned Sherwood Forest Zoo

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

I’ve lived in Connecticut for pretty much my entire life. I’ve always liked it here. I make movies for a living, and being right smack in between New York and Boston really has its perks, aside from a few drawbacks. We believe in voting rights here. We support a woman’s right to choose. We have legalized cannabis. We were one of the only states in the Union to not have an election denier on the ballot during the midterms. And to top it all off, we arguably had the best response to the Covid-19 Pandemic in the entire country. And I think that was because as uptight as us Nutmeggers can be, deep down we really care about each other. We masked up. We got vaccinated. We trusted the science. And we all watched out for one and other the best we could. Whenever I’m out working on a movie or a TV show and someone asks me where in Connecticut I’m from, I always just say Hartford. Technically I live just outside it, but most people know about our capital city. It’s just easier. I will never forget working on a little show called “Dexter: New Blood” a few years back. A certain member of the main cast, who shall remain nameless, really bonded with me over Hartford. We talked about it everyday we were on set together. When he found out I was “from” there, he had a lot of questions about how the city has been doing. As a veteran performer and journeyman actor whose been in practically everything, he was no stranger to Hartford. I unfortunately didn’t have much of an answer for him. Because while our state of Connecticut continues to thrive, our capital city has always been troubled.

A huge tip of the hat goes to our friends at J&M Explorations for contacting us about this place. These two have supported us from the beginning, and they’re both really good people. They did an excellent video covering this place, which you should definitely check out here. And if you’ve got a moment, please do give them a Subscribe. We as artists always have to support each other. Because if we don’t, who else will? Our subject this month is the abandoned Sherwood Forest Zoo in Hartford, CT. Opening in the days following World War II, this small attraction was located in Keney Park. It housed all kinds of animals, from the local to the exotic. Spanning over twelve acres, guests of the zoo included seals, otters, wolves, reindeer, and skunks. There were multiple enclosures, primarily for mammals, and even an aquatic viewing exhibit. The original hope of the park was to try bringing a piece of nature into the inner city. But with this hope came great tragedy. There unfortunately were countless incidents during the park’s tenure involving severe animal cruelty, vandalism, and criminal activity. I won’t go into details about said incidents. Just believe me when I say some truly heinous acts were committed here. The zoo was eventually forced to close its doors for good in 1974. Though there were several attempted revivals, it eventually faded from memory.

We made our trek out to the abandoned zoo in early February. Every winter, we toy with the idea of taking the year off from exploring or retiring from it all together. But the call to adventure always wins out. Keney Park is a vast area in the Northeast side of Hartford, close to the Bloomfield and Windsor town lines. I knew this area of this city quite well after filming a project there several years ago. The park is mainly known for its golf course and recreation complexes. The remains of the zoo are located on the quieter side of the park. Good for exploring. Bad for parking. If you’ve got a vehicle that isn’t too low to the ground and know what you’re looking for, you’ll do just fine. To the untrained eye, the trail to the abandoned zoo looks just like any other trail around here. But after consulting an old map of Sherwood Forest Zoo, you can see that this was once a roadway providing the lifeblood of the park. We even found an ancient yellow “NO PARKING” sign off the beaten path. The remnants of the zoo are a short walk down the trail. Believe it or not, a rickety chain link fence still surrounds the perimeter. It gives the old park a very ghostly and foreboding feel. Though we were in the middle of the woods on a sunny day, there wasn’t a single sound in the air. We crossed over a fallen tree that had toppled a section of the fence, and made our way inside.

The first stop on the trail is the abandoned bathroom complex. It is small but sturdy. One side has been completely gutted, but the other still has its stalls and hand dryers. Though they are rusted to Hell, this was a really cool find. Following the chain link fence, we eventually came upon an abandoned enclosure that was very reminiscent of the abandoned Uconn Kennels that we covered several years ago. Two cement enclosures stand side by side inside of a pavilion. We believe that this was either the Prairie Dog Village or where the woodchucks were housed. Several large iron cage are scattered amongst the underbrush. We also found one very well preserved rabbit skull that was clearly a victim of some large predator. But the main attraction of this place is easily the remains of the aquatic viewing exhibit. We believe this is where the seals and/or otters were housed during the zoo’s heyday. It lies at the very back corner of the old park, right next to what remains of the old picnic area. The viewing windows are still standing, providing ghostly framed views of the derelict exhibit. And the main watershed room, memorable for it’s stark yellow paint job, has now been turned into a makeshift living quarters. A blue tarp hangs over the doorway, very reminiscent of a “Dexter” kill room. An old camping chair waits outside. Empty pill bottles are scattered across the grimy floor. Though we found nobody inside, someone has clearly been squatting inside this former attraction.

I honestly would recommend a visit to the abandoned Sherwood Forest Zoo. It is a unique look into a forgotten part of Hartford’s history. As I mentioned to you earlier, there have been several rumblings over the years about redeveloping the area. Though I strongly doubt the park will ever rise again, that doesn’t mean we can’t take something away from her story. “Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.” This was the motto of the famous English literary character Robin Hood. He was a man who always fought and stood up for the people. He and his band of “merry men” found refuge from the law in the woods of Sherwood Forest. Which ironically is where this troubled attraction got its name from. But Robin Hood’s motto has been used as an inspiration for many throughout the years. The story of the abandoned Sherwood Forest Zoo will always be yet another scar on the face of Hartford, Connecticut. But if you’ve ever been to our capital, it truly is a beautiful place. I was there two weeks ago supporting the new Film/TV Tax Incentives. And hundreds of people work hard everyday to give this city a brighter future. Not by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. But by always believing in their communities and never giving up. And so this is a salute, to the teachers, law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, community volunteers, and all the good people out there that fight to make Hartford a better place for all of us. Life is tough. But so are you.

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