Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Deer Park Article – Sept. 3, 1969

September 1959 newspaper ad
Summer is winding down, so you'd better stop putting off some of those fun things that you waited all winter to do – such as a trip to Deer Park near Castalia.

A friend of mine took their daughter there a few weeks ago and it sounds like it hasn't changed since my family went there in the late 60s  – which is refreshing.

The article below – which appeared in the Toledo Blade on September 3, 1968 includes a little bit of history about the place and what the idea was behind it.

Cougar Calls Castalia Home
Bottle-Fed Cuddly Cub Dubbed Tabatha Lives in Park
Blade Staff Writer

CASTALIA, O.  – A mountain lion has taken up residence in Castalia.

However, the mountain lion came by invitation and presents no danger to residents.

The cat, also known as a cougar or puma, lives in Deer Park, owned by Herbert Nielsen. Mr Nielsen's daughter, Debbie, had always wanted a mountain lion cub at the park, so Mr. Nielsen arranged to have one flown here from a Bismarck, N.D., zoo.

The mountain lion, named Tabatha by Miss Nielsen, is about one foot long and weighs about four pounds. She has been rendered almost totally harmless to humans, at least for the present, by the removal of her claws.

Fed By Bottle
Mr. Nielsen said that his daughter feeds Tabatha with a bottle. Scratches and cuts from Tabatha's claws marked Miss Nielsen's arms until the claws were removed. Tabatha eats baby formula fortified with pablum and occasionally canned cat food.

Miss Nielsen makes sure that Tabatha gets the proper exercise
(Blade Photo by John Collier)
Her eating habits have improved considerably since she arrived at the park several weeks ago. The Nielsens were unable, at first, to hit on anything the cat would eat which would give her enough vitamins and minerals.

Tabatha was cared for by two Bellevue veterinarians, Drs. John Maike and Duane Mansperger, until she would take food naturally. She was force-fed goat's milk through a nose tube, similar to those used to feed premature babies.

Tabatha is about three months old now and in about three years, when she is full grown, she will weigh about 175 pounds.

Variety of Residents
Miss Nielsen, 16, a student at Margaretta High School, said Tabatha was weaned from her mother one day and arrived at the park the next day.

Tabatha joins a large variety of residents at the park. Mr. Nielsen's park houses llamas. mountain sheep, deer, elk, bison, reindeer, blue goats, Abyssinian donkeys, rare four-horned sheep, and even a baby elephant.

The elephant is 39 inches tall and will be traded back to an animal dealer at the end of next summer for another baby elephant.

Mr. Nielsen, who originated the children's park 12 years ago, said that Tabatha will be tamed by handling as she matures. He said that she will present no danger to park visitors.

The park was originated to provide entertainment for the families of fishermen. Mr. Nielsen said that he operated stocked lakes for several years. He began to realize that when the husbands went fishing, there was nothing for their wives and children to do.

He saw an advertisement for a deer park in Michigan, visited it, and liked it enough to start his own park. His modest beginning with 38 deer and 2 llamas has expanded to a well-known family entertainment spot in an area known for its vacation advantages.

Here's a vintage image of Deer Park to rekindle your memories. The photo and caption below are courtesy of the Arcadia book Castalia, Cold Creek and the Blue Hole.

Seven varieties of imported foreign deer inhabit the park and roam about
among the visitors looking for food handouts. Deer Park was started in 1956
by the Nielsen family, which continues to operate the facility. The park's
12-to-18-foot-deep lagoons are fed by the existing water table and were dug
by steam shovels. The dinky trains traveled past the lagoons to transport
the yellow clay to the Bay Bridge cement mill.
The vintage photo must have been used extensively for publicity, because it seems to be the source of the illustration shown on the Deer Park souvenir plate shown at the top of this post.

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