The Delmar Zoo

Excerpted from Five Rivers: The History of a Special Place

Most local citizens became aware of the Delmar Experimental Game Farm through the creation of the Delmar Zoo. Conservation aide Clinton Bishop and his wife Frances lived near the railroad crossing on New Scotland Road South, where they bred terriers and also kept a bustling menagerie of wildlife. Clint’s natural affinity for wildlife was put to good use with his care of the game birds at the Game Farm, but he also tended to be a magnet for injured birds and animals. According to a coworker, “Clint was always taking in something new to nurse back to health.”

In 1948, the zoo began to take shape as Clint began to display the many animals he was caretaking. Eventually it consisted of a number of cages as well as a deer pen and a small penned in pond for waterfowl. Among the more popular animals over the years were a trio of bear cubs, dubbed Rosy, Posy, and Dosy, housed in the structure near the Five Rivers parking lot that is still called “The Bear Pen.” Other popular animals included an albino skunk and a talking crow named Jimmy.

Inevitably, people came not only to see the animals on display but also to bring injured animals they had found, for care. A coworker reported that “[Clint] estimated that, at one time or another, he had handled every mammal native to New York State.”

Besides the zoo, Bishop developed traveling educational exhibits which he took to fairs, sportsmen’s shows, and conventions around the state. He used a twenty by thirty foot semi-circular cage to display song birds, pheasants, wild turkeys, and deer, lining the cage with red pine, driftwood, and greenery to maintain a natural feeling.