The Southwick Story
It all started 200 years ago
The Southwick homestead dates back over 200 years to 1803. As a working farm with dairy cows, the property continued to expand with peach orchards and vegetable gardens. Justin F. Southwick started collecting fancy poultry as a hobby during the 1930s.
Sharing the passion leads to new horizons
Justin A. Southwick, son of Justin F., shared his father’s passion for collecting birds. He became one of the world’s leading authorities on migratory waterfowl. His keen interest in the conservation and preservation of animals, particularly birds, led him to concentrate more on exotic bird species and native wildlife. He sold the dairy herd in 1953. In 1956, with the suggestion of friends, he placed a donation box at the barn where the birds were housed. These donations allowed Justin to buy more birds for the public’s enjoyment, and it was the impetus for Southwick’s future growth. Not long after that, Southwick’s biggest journey yet was launched.
The Wild Animal Farm is born
Southwick Wild Animal Farm, now a family affair, opened in 1963 under the stewardship of Justin A. and his wife Clarice Daniels Southwick, and with the help of son Dan, their daughter Justine, and her husband Robert Brewer, the zoo grew rapidly. In 1965, two corporations were formed: Southwick Wild Animal Farm, Inc. and Southwick Birds & Animals, Inc.. Justin served as President of each business, while Daniel became Vice President of the Birds & Animals entity, which allowed Southwick to trade, sell, or lease animals. Robert Brewer became Vice President of the Wild Animal Farm.
In 1970, another business venture beckoned. Robert and Justine sold their interest in Southwick’s, purchased Santa’s Land, and moved with their five children to Putney, Vermont. When Justin passed away in 1971, Dan took over the management of the businesses.
Zoo overcomes hard times
After Dan Southwick’s untimely death in 1977, Southwick’s went through some troubled years. In 1981, the Brewer family returned to nurture the growth and rebuilding of the zoo. Since that time the park has grown extensively. Southwick’s is home to over 500 wild animals featuring more than 100 varied species, many of which are endangered.
The Brewer family and its staff are dedicated to the preservation and conservation of all animals. The Southwick team’s mission: to provide an extensive zoological collection and educational facility for our visitors. We strive to promote an exciting environment for a positive family experience.
Southwick’s is a privately owned zoo. Therefore, the zoo does not receive state, local, or federal funding of any kind. All admission proceeds go directly towards caring for the animals and upkeep of the zoo. This includes animal housing, appropriate diets, veterinary care, new exhibit design, and all maintenance of zoo facilities.
We thank you for your patronage.
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