Washington’s Menagerie

History, Nature Center, Washington Lodge

What would you do if someone passed on the street walking a cheetah on a leash?  George Constant Washington was best known for inventing instant coffee. Not many know he was also famous for having “menageries” of exotic animals. These animals resided at the multiple places, including CEED’s home, the Washington Lodge in Brookhaven.

During the late 1920’s, owning exotic animals was popular for wealthy people and Washington was no exception. Along with dogs, George owned deer, sheep, goats, llamas, antelope, zebras, ring-tailed lemurs, a cheetah and many exotic birds. 

According to past records, Washington would often have a bird or monkey with him on his shoulder:  “[…]He kept a large aviary, and when walking around the Town Dock to watch the yacht races he would often have an exotic bird or a monkey on his shoulder.”Stephanie Bigelow, Bellport and Brookhaven: A Saga of the Sibling Hamlets of the Old Purchase South.

Unfortunately, there are not many photos or records showing what animals he owned. We know he had many habitat enclosures. You can still see remnants along the trail on our Grounds. Recently, a flamingo pool was uncovered at Mama Farm, the organic farm next door. Imagine how many different animals made up Mr. Washington’s menagerie way back when he lived at the Lodge!

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