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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Coney Island Kittens

Coney Island Boardwalk Kittens, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Since the dramatic rescue of Coney Island cat Snow Coney in November, we’ve written about model programs to manage feral and stray cats at Disneyland and the Atlantic City Boardwalk and asked – Why not Coney Island? It’s about to be launched.

There will be an organizational meeting on April 15th at 6:30pm at the Coney Island YMCA Community Room located on West 29th Street at Surf Avenue. Hosted by Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, the purpose is to organize volunteers and support to help the stray and feral cats on the Coney Island Boardwalk. You must register via eventbrite since seating is limited. If you can’t make it on April 15th, send a note to brooklyn.rescue.umbrella[AT]gmail[DOT]com indicating your interest to be contacted for the next meeting.

You’re invited to an organizational meeting to start a pilot program in Coney Island similar to Alley Cat Allies’ successful Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project to care for feral and stray cats. The program would utilize feeding stations, shelters and TNR—Trap Neuter Return – a humane and effective method of feral cat management that stabilizes the size of the colonies and reduces nuisance behaviors.

In Atlantic City, where the city-approved project was started in 2000, Alley Cat Allies Boardwalk Cats draws visitors from all over the country. Disneyland in California also has a managed colony of 200 feral cats who dine at five discreet feeding stations and receive medical care. The bonus for the community is the rodent population is kept under control and calls to public officials about cats are eliminated.

Meeting organizer Josie Marrero will talk about the feral and stray cat population along the Coney Island Boardwalk, where demolition and redevelopment have displaced some colonies and thrown others into crisis. A video of the Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project will be screened. A representative of the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, a program of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals committed to solving NYC’s feral cat overpopulation crisis through TNR, will attend to answer questions.

Coney Island Boardwalk Kitty

Coney Island Boardwalk Kitty, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Immediate Needs

–Volunteers to assist with trapping, recovery, and transportation. Let us know if you have TNR certification or experience with feral cats or cat rescue.

–A volunteer coordinator as well to help with social media and fundraising. We would like to raise funds via Indiegogo or Kickstarter and also ask local businesses and property owners for support.

–Recovery space is needed for the cats immediately after trapping and post surgery. It should be a safe, quiet space. Male cats may be released after 24 hours, female cats after 48 hours.

–Approval of pilot program, including feeding stations, shelters and TNR, by the Parks Department and other City agencies, and property owners. Over the winter, BRU volunteers put out shelters, straw and food, only to be admonished and the shelters removed.

Coney Island Boardwalk Cats Project – Organizational Meeting hosted by Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, Coney Island YMCA Community Room, 2980 W 29th St, Brooklyn, NY 11224. Tuesday, April 15, 2014 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

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Related Posts on ATZ…

March 16, 2014: Coney Island Bunny Makes Broadway Debut at Union Square Petco

January 27, 2014: AC Boardwalk, Disneyland Have Model Programs for Feral Cats–Why Not Coney Island?

December 10, 2013: Update on Coney Island Cat ‘Snow Coney’ & His Family

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

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Monkey Speedway Car

Antique Circus Monkey Racing Car. Photo by Architectural Anarchy, Chicago via 1st dibs

Coming across this photo of an “Antique Circus Monkey Racing Car” recently sold by Chicago dealer Architectural Anarchy rekindled the curiosity that I felt as a carny kid. My father’s story about how he had a real, live monkey on a trapeze in his popcorn trailer to attract customers in the 1940s began with mention of where he got the idea: a Monkey Speedway! It was at the Patriots’ Day Celebration in Boston. The term was one I’d never heard before because this long popular carnival attraction had by then disappeared from the midways of New England.

Monkey Speedway

Vintage Photo of Monkey Speedway. Photo © Tricia Vita Collection

Right through the 1950s and 60s, carnivals placed ads in the Billboard and then Amusement Business for Monkey Circuses and Speedways as well as managers to run them. “We are interested only in a show man that can and will work hard for a seasons bank roll,” said an ad for King Reid, New England’s largest carnival, in 1946. Carnival supply house H.C. Evans called its Monkey Speedway “The unbeatable carnival attraction! Equal to a free act!” A trio of trained monkeys in little metal cars raced around a wooden track while people placed bets on the laydown of numbers. The prizes were boxes of candy, my father said.

It was the crowd-stopping appeal of the Monkey Speedway that gave Dad the idea to put a monkey act in his popcorn trailer one spring when the show owner changed the location of the merry-go-round, leaving him up in front with no customers. After trying unsuccessfully to buy one of the Speedway monkeys, my father went to Benson’s Wild Animal Farm in New Hampshire, where they had monkeys for sale.

“So they sold me a little rhesus monkey for $15 and they put him in a small wooden cage. I put the cage on the front seat of my truck, and while I was driving back to the carnival, the monkey would look at me and I would look at the monkey, and I don’t know if I was more afraid of him than he was of me.”

Monkey Speedway

Vintage Photo of Monkey Speedway. Photo © Tricia Vita Collection

“After we got back to the lot, the monkey ate a few meals and got to like me. I’d built a small trapeze and fastened it to one of the rafters on the popcorn stand. I tried to train Roebuck to sit on it and swing. It was against the law to keep an animal in a food stand, but I had to take a chance because it was either that or go out of business.”

It took my father three weeks to get Roebuck to sit on the trapeze and swing. And when he did he was surrounded by a crowd of people who bought peanuts and popcorn and candy apples to eat while they watched the free show. “Some kids would do anything to to be near the monkey: They’d bring bananas. They’d throw pennies. And Roebuck would catch quite a few of them.”

When the kids would ask what’s the monkey’s name?” he’d say, “I’m Sears, he’s Roebuck,” and the kids would laugh.

Monkey Speedway, Cetlin & Wilson Shows

Monkey Speedway, Cetlin & Wilson Shows. Photo © International Independent Showmen’s Museum

Though my father bought and sold Roebuck years before I was born, I felt as though the monkey was my long-lost brother. I just knew that he missed the peanuts, popcorn and pennies as much as I did when we stayed from October through April in my grandmother’s house, away from the free-wheeling life of the road.

The Monkey Speedway is one of the long-vanished shows documented in the collection of the International Independent Showmen’s Museum in Gibsonton, Florida. And the tiny race cars, if you’re lucky enough to find one, have entered the realm of folk art.

Monkey Go Round, a German film released in the 1960s by Castle Films, is the fairytale-like story of a troupe of monkeys and their caretaker’s show biz comeback and will give you a glimpse of a Monkey Speedway.

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 16, 2014: Coney Island Bunny Makes Broadway Debut at Union Square Petco

January 27, 2014: AC Boardwalk, Disneyland Have Model Programs for Feral Cats–Why Not Coney Island?

December 31, 2012: Memoirs of a Carny Kid: The Land of Prizes

January 15, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island

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Steeplechase the Coney Island Bunny

Marcie Frishberg of NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue demonstrates how to pet Steeplechase the Coney Island Bunny at Petco in Union Square. March 15, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Coney Island “coney” named Steeplechase made her Broadway debut at Union Square Petco on Saturday, where rescue group NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue has an adoption center. There are 4 rabbits that reside there but it was Steeplechase’s first appearance. The refugee from the bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden was rescued by William Leung and fellow volunteers in January after 21 days on the run. Since then, Steeplechase has received medical care and been spayed, and is now being fostered by Leung, who already has four companion rabbits at his home in Queens.

Steeple Chase the Coney Island Bunny

Steeplechase the Coney Island Bunny at NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue adoption center in Union Square Petco. March 15, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

ATZ asked Leung how the Coney Island rabbit is getting along with the other bunnies. “She is still a little shy, but loves attention. She has met my rabbits,” he said. “She was eager to make friends but my female rabbits were jealous and don’t like her. My little boy Chad is smitten with her and would dance for her whenever he sees her through the pens. His current girlfriend Duchess knows that and tries to bite her whenever she sees her.”

Rabbits dance for each other?

“They binky. When he sees her, he binkies all over the place,” explains Leung.

Binky? Okay, so we had to look up the word! Here’s some Bunny Binky Action courtesy of YouTube user Kate Midkiff…

Coney Island was named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century. But Steeplechase, a white bunny with black ears, is a Californian breed of domestic rabbit and had lived her entire life outdoors in the boardwalk garden and surrounding area until this year.

Steeplechase’s favorite place in Leung’s apartment, which she has the run of at night, is his walk-in closet. The rest of the time she has her own room. “She is very curious and eager to explore,” says Leung. “She likes to climb and jump into things, but if you tell her once not to go somewhere, she actually gets it and won’t go there again, so she is one smart cookie. She is also very good with litter box skill, I mean I have never seen a bun this clean. Not only is she 100% in the litter box, she only uses one corner.”

Union Sqaure Petco NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue

Petco Union Square Manager Josh Axelrod presenting a check for $2240.79 from the Petco Foundation to NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue’s Marcie Frishberg. March 15, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

When ATZ visited on Saturday, Josh Axelrod, the longtime manager of the Union Square store, happened to come by to give a check for $2240.79 from the Petco Foundation to NY Metro Rabbit’s Marcie Frishberg. Axelrod said that $1000 came from a Petco-sponsored contest won by Union Square staff and the balance was raised from customer donations at the checkout counter. The Petco Foundation donates about $15 million a year to help more than 8,000 local animal welfare groups across the country. Union Square Petco also hosts Kitty Kind, where we adopted our cat Talulah about two years ago. On Saturday, Long Island Bulldog Rescue also had a booth and the ASPCA’s adoption van was parked outside.

NYC Metro Rabbit Rescue is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing abandoned New York City rabbits and finding them permanent indoor homes. Their website features a plethora of info, from a documentary on what it’s like to live with a companion rabbit to articles on their care and behavior. In addition to Union Square Petco, the group has rabbit adoption locations at the Petco on Lexington Avenue and 86th Street and the City’s Center for Animal Care and Control (ACC) on 110th Street at 2nd Avenue. The group is a satellite of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, which is the downstate NY chapter of the House Rabbit Society.

NYC Metro Rabbit

NYC Metro Rabbit, the NYC Satellite of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, at Petco in Union Square. March 15, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Related Posts on ATZ…

January 18, 2014: Coney Island Bunny Rescued After 21 Days on The Run

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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