Diane Novak has retired after founding the Long Island Game Farm with her husband, Stanley, in 1970, and passing it on to her daughter Melinda Novak, who plans to keep it going and make improvements. Her granddaughter, Chela Novak, continues to support the farm and recently hand raised an injured Emu chick in her house.
Diane remembers that Manorville back in 1969 was very quiet, except for the noise from National Speedway on weekends. To build the farm, they used ideas from the zoos they would visit when camping, especially the Catskill Game Farm.
She also remembers having many different animals living at times in her kitchen, such as a baby deer, kid goats and sometimes a chimpanzee or baby lion would come in to visit a family birthday party.
On the opening day, she and Stanley wondered if anyone would come. And they did, making memories for generations.
“Diane really cares about how the gardens look. She spent a lot of time making the farm look special,” said Jennifer Riehl, head keeper for 30 years.
Diane’s husband, Stanley, died in 1999, and her daughter Susan, who managed the park, died in 2001.
While the park is closed to the public due to COVID-19, new changes and repairs are underway.
“All the animals are doing just fine, but they miss seeing our guests,” said Novak.