Richmond Hill, Georgia: Chico's Monkey Farm (Gone)Tourist trap zoo and gift shop operated from ~1950s (or earlier) until the interstate killed it in the late 1970s.
- 8 or 9 miles south of Richmond Hill, west side of US Hwy 17 about,just north of the intersection of GA Route 196.
- Closed late '70s. Buildings leveled in mid-1990s.
Visitor Tips and News About Chico's Monkey Farm
Chico's was kind of creepy place when it was open and full swing, but it got downright macabre after it closed down. I first visited there in 1975, and met the owner, who was (and still is) a larger-than-life character, with a background in the circus.
I always imagined the farm as merely and excuse to sell the wares of the souvenir shop, which were largely manufactured in Mexico, if memory serves....boots, hats, serapes etc. They had quite a collection of animals, and the filthiest restrooms I ever saw.
Through the years I'd stop and say hello, until one day it was all boarded up. They sold the animals and whatever else people would buy, and there it sat as the Georgia swamp vegetation slowly obscured it from sight. I miss the old place, and have nothing but great memories of all my visits.[Proharhi, 03/14/2010]
I was the owner of this property from 2002-2008. I sold the property to a fellow that plans on building a gas station/small strip mall.[Laurie, 06/03/2009]
Though our family station wagon passed Chico's Monkey Farm many times in the 1960s and early 1970s, I regret it was too early in the morning to ever stop. Back in those days my parents would complete an all night drive from New Jersey southward to Florida. Chico's was located on the west side of US 17 just north of the intersection of GA Route 196. That was an era when Interstate 95 was more of a dotted line on an Esso map than actual paved route. Chico's was one of those attractions you found along US 17.
Its signs boasted of its collection of monkeys and reptiles, as well as leather moccasin footwear in the gift shop. The small billboards were either orange or stunning pink. By about 1970 Chico's was also one of those attractions that added a towable lighted arrow-marquee sign to the front of the parking lot. These signs appeared almost overnight up and down US 17 in front of all sorts of businesses.
The completion of I-95, with an exit only a few miles north, essentially doomed Chico's.
Chico's building facade was still standing, albeit overgrown, in mid-1985 when I was assigned to nearby Fort Stewart, GA. Alas, my four year tour passed without any action on my part to memorialize the remains in pictures. The police often parked in the abandoned parking lot when setting up speed traps. At one point in the 1988/89 time period one of the surviving Chico's roadside billboards was visible in the brush not too far from the current collection of truck stops by US 17 and I-95.
When I last drove by the site of Chico's in October 2002 -- with every intention of photographing the old place -- I found that the site had been completely demolished.[Kaustra, 10/23/2008]
My family has lived in Richmond Hill for generations. Before I-95 came thru , Hwy 17 was the route to take and it was there where you would find all the motor-lodges, etc. Chico's closed in the 70's and was demolished after sitting for years.
Never, ever have I heard of a epidemic or anything like that, although one of the monkeys did get loose one time and ended up in my neighbors yard.[Annie, 01/19/2007]
I'm trying to find out more about Chico's Monkey Farm. The description from this website sounds like a place that was just south of where I went to college. The tale goes that some terrible epidemic wiped out all the monkeys and the attraction was quarantined and closed, but was left intact and now overgrown with crazy vines and trees. Many students trekked out to this place to take photos and I've heard it is really creepy. I'd love to find out more and if the 'epidemic' was just a college myth.[Mimi Flow, 01/29/2002]