Roadkill? Space Farms Zoo calls it ‘tiger feed’
Every year tens of thousands of deer are struck and killed by cars and trucks on New Jersey roadways – and crews have to clean them up.
But just where do all of these dead deer go? If you kill a deer on the road in northern New Jersey, the carcass likely ends up as food for the animals at Space Farms Zoo and Museum in Sussex County.
The owners of the zoo have been contracted out to clear roadkill deer in Essex, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties.
Meat that's too damaged or rotten, and that's most of it during the summer, is sent to a landfill. But anything in decent shape is butchered and used as the perfect organic free-range natural meal for the zoo’s big cats.
“What we do is we process it and we leave the bones, the fat, the skin, everything on, because in the wild there's no butcher for them,” says Hunter Space. “Leave it all on, it makes them healthier than anything.”
Hunter says that he sometimes picks up as many as 30 deer in a day.
“I don’t smell anything anymore. I’ve been doing this my entire life,” he says.
The zoo gets between $31 and $49 per deer depending on the county.
Space Farms is owned by New Jersey Assemblyman Parker Space, who represented Sussex County. He says that he is the low bidder for the contracts partly because few people want to do it. He also says that the dollar value of all the free meat is only there for someone who happens to own a zoo.
Assemblyman Space also says that the rates he charges to have his one-man crews pick up the deer are far cheaper than what the New Jersey Department of Transportation spends to do the same work on state highways. He says that they use two or three people crews and two trucks at a time.