S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Ruhe Animal Farm Page keywords = Ruhe Ruhr Vestermann Sunnyside Woodside Frank Buck Bring 'em Back Alive Zoo Monkey Mountain animal Jungle Camp Park Ali Massapequa Long Island New York

Updated:   29 Feb 2012, 00:50  ET
[Page created 21 Feb 2005; converted 29 Feb 2012
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]

URL:  http://sbiii.com/ruhefarm.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/ruhefarm.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


(a.k.a. Ruhe Wild Animal Farm)

This page is basically unindexed; scroll away!

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, though I can't remember exactly when, there was an animal supplier to the world's zoos and circuses and medical research establishments - - - .

That's how the Frank Buck and his Zoo page starts and then goes on to explain how exotic animals Buck brought in through the Port of New York were quarantined in Queens County (the Borough of Queens) in New York City before being shipped out to his Massapequa, Long Island, facility, or on to zoos and circuses nationwide.

From that, the story widened into the veterinarian of the farm, one Dr. Gustav Vespermann, and his wife Clara (Klara in German) and from that into the Ruhe firm that started the farm and quarantine station.  Next, descendants of the Vespermann tribe turned up and the story then got more complex and lengthy than could fit on the Frank Buck page and so I started this new page.

The Ruhe Animal Farm

(a.k.a. the Ruhe Wild Animal Farm)

There was an animal holding facility in Sunnyside, Queens, Long island, New York, known as the Ruhe Animal Farm (or Ruhe Wild Animal Farm, but NOT as the Ruhr farm), where Frank Buck's animals went through quarantine on arrival (apparently the farm served in this capacity for animals coming in by ship into the New York port).  The resident veterinarian was Dr. Gustav Vespermann, and he and his wife, Clara, who also worked there, are shown here:

Dr. G. Vespermann Carla Vespermann
(Photos courtesy of Sunnyside CofC - all rights reserved to source)
[I'd never noticed; there's a monkey on the cheetah's back!]

These photos, ca. 1935, are shown through the kind courtesy of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, from their excellent Website's Pictures of the Good Old Days (and were supplied to the CofC by one John Edebohls#).

This came to my attention via an 02 May 2002 e-mail from the Vespermann's great-grand-daughter.  The CofC site advises that the farm "was located in back of Stevens Parking Lot.".  Can anyone tell us more about those good folks or their operation?#

In only one day, I'd already (04 May 2002) heard from a grandson, the son of a Vespermann daughter (and uncle of the great-grand-daughter), who says the whole family is hunting for more pictures and were previously unaware of these two - what fun!  [PLEASE - get back in touch with me!#]

# - BIG NEWS (08 Feb 2005)!  Oh, it gets even better!  I heard from Herr W. Petzold of Alfeld, Germany, who is a grand-nephew of Clara Vespermann!  He writes (slightly edited), "As I belong to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Vespermann, I can tell the following":

"First of all, I suggest, the real name was 'Ruhe Animal Farm' {emphases mine}.  From my mother, I learned that Clara (in German: 'Klara') Vespermann was her aunt.  Klara had married Gustav Vespermann and together they went to America.  In Germany before, Gustav Vespermann had been working for an animal trading company in the little town of my birth, called Alfeld.  The owners of this company [established by their father Ludwig (Louis) in 1868] were two brothers, Hermann Ruhe in Alfeld and Bernhard Ruhe in New York."

"See the history of the famous Ruhe company (in German): http://www.villa-ruhe.de/geschichte.html."  [I expect to post an exact English translation here, shortly.]

Herr Petzold would like to contact members of the Vespermann family in America and I have set at least one contact in motion; this is the sort of thing that makes all this effort so worthwhile.

Herr Petzold sent quite a bit of information on Klara Alfeis (her maiden name, before she married Gustav Vespermann) and Alfeld (a fair-sized old Hanseatic town 60 miles south of Hanover) and the Ruhe firm; I chose to limit how much I post here to these; a photo of Klara cropped from a full and charming Alfeis family portrait (ca. 1900{?}), a picture of wild cattle at the farm in Alfeld, and two recent pictures of Villa Ruhe (now a municipal building):



VillaRuhe1 VillaRuhe6 (photos courtesy W. Petzold - all rights reserved)

However, now that I have this separate page about Ruhe and the Vespermanns, I have revised the above such that the portrait of Klara is now a thumbnail and clicking on it will yield the full Alfeis family portrait.  This was, after all, on a page about Frank Buck, not a Ruhe page.  However, I must add that Herr Petzold ran across an obituary of one Carl Edebohls (note photographer John Edebohls credited above), "predeceased by his first wife, Hildegarde Vespermann Edebohls; Hildegard(e) must be one of three daughters of Gustav and Clara Vespermann"; Edebohls, of Sunnyside, Queens, died in 2002 and had a son John.

Unfortunately, I heard via the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce on 21 Feb 2005 that they received those pictures from John Edebohls about 20 years ago when working on a history project and that the Edebohls moved away a number of years ago; John, where are you?

Neighboring Astoria, Queens, also has an historical society, the Greater Astoria Historical Society and Herr Petzold found this on their site, an article from April 1915 (excerpted by specific permission) from the DAILY STAR ["Get into a conversation with a long time Queens resident and you're likely to discover a subscriber of the Long Island Star-Journal, a daily paper that informed the community about local and world news until it folded in 1968.  A banner across the Star Journal masthead reminded readers that the newspaper's name came from the merger of the Long Island Daily Star (1876) and the North Shore Daily Journal - The Flushing Journal (1841)"] -


"Welcome to April 1915!"

{writing about "doomed roosters" that "will soon sing their final choruses"}:

"Later in the month a rarer animal was in the news as a headline announced 'Tasmanian Devil Here.'  A Star-Journal reporter reassured readers that this notoriously unfriendly beast was safely ensconced at Louis Ruhe’s wild animal farm in Woodside.  'Alive only to the rapid residential and industrial growth of our borough, you prosaic residents of Queens Borough, can you imagine a spot in Queens about three and a half acres in area, where is gathered nearly every variety of wild animal, from a boa constrictor to an elephant?  Can you imagine a spot in Queens where you can listen to the songs of 4,000 canaries?"

"Several days ago a Star reporter, immersed in the drab routine of the Long Island City Magistrates’ Court, met Ernest Siegfried, manager of Mr. Ruhe’s animal farm, who applied in court to have his revolver permit renewed.  Mr. Siegfried invited the reporter to visit him at the animal farm.  There was nothing to remind your reporter of the African jungle or the veldt as he rode to Woodside on the car of the New York and Queens Traction Corporation.  A few hundred feet from where the car stopped were the tombstones of Calvary Cemetery.  The rattle of riveters drew his attention to where the Corona extension of the dual rapid transit system (today’s No. 7 line) was in the course of construction."

"Unfortunately, during the tour of the animal farm, the Tasmanian devil 'refused to be disturbed from a siesta in the rear of his cage, even by the lure of an interview with a newspaper reporter, and 'he grunted angrily' when Mr. Siegfried sought to arouse him.  The Tasmanian devil, Mr. Siegfried explained, is one of the rarest of animals, and Mr. Ruhe feels much elated by his possession.  Buddy, an eight-month-old lion cub, vied for the honors in this shed with the Tasmanian devil.  There was a time when Buddy could be fondled like a pup by Mr. Siegfried.  But just now he is beginning to realize the great strength he possesses, and Mr. Siegfried keeps him caged."

"The farm at Woodside furnished animals to circuses all over the United States.  At that time an elephant would sell for about $1,800, and a lion for $800.  Louis Ruhe, one of the largest importers of wild animals in the country, had just sent two polar bears off to delight the audiences of Barnum and Bailey’s.  Among the other animals the Star-Journal reporter met was 'Hashish,' a three-year-old camel who was due to take part in a Coney Island exhibit called 'A Street in Cairo' that summer.  'He reared and plunged and snorted, meanwhile eyeing with a wicked gleam the curious reporter, who from the pictures he had seen of camels on packages of dates, had been led to believe that the 'Ship of the Desert' was a most amiable animal.'  A friendlier resident was 'Jeff,' a boxing kangaroo.  'Jeff,' a five-year-old kangaroo, 'frequently consents to don the gloves with the attendants at the farm and is no slouch at defensive or offensive tactics, say the attendants.  Managers of the Queensboro and Astoria boxing clubs, take notice!'"

"That’s the way it was in April 1915!"

"Compiled by Clare Doyle, Librarian, Greater Astoria Historical Society." and excerpted here by specific, written permission of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, to which all rights are reserved and to which I am extremely grateful.

One Louis Roth, an Hungarian emigré who trained animals used in Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan films, started as an animal cage cleaner at the Louis Ruhe Wild Animal Park in Woodside (Queens), Long Island.

This brings us to some interesting considerations; Bernhard Ruhe came to the U. S. to run the family business, Louis Ruhe was the owner in 1915, and Ernest Siegfried was the manager then, and the business was in Woodside.  Did the farm move, or did Woodside and Sunnyside, which are adjacent today, sort of overlap?  Was Louis Ruhe the son of founder Bernhard or was he Bernhard's father Louis (Ludwig)?

Let's hear from more relatives (and friends) of the Vespermanns, the Siegfrieds, and the Ruhes!

Stay tuned!

See also the Frank Buck and his Zoo page.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


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