After more than 35 years, the Yellow River Game Ranch has closed, Channel 2 Action News has learned.
The ranch is famously home to Georgia’s own Beauregard Lee, who is the South’s favorite weather-predicting groundhog.
But many families remember the ranch for feeding and taking pictures with deer, buffalo and goats.
Channel 2's Tony Thomas spoke to workers who said the game ranch has closed. Those workers and a friend of the owner all said that the ranch is shut down after a rocky couple of years of complaints and inspections.
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There were more than 600 animals at the facility on Highway 78 in Lilburn.
Thomas said he could hear the some of the animals in the distance.
The ranch's owner has not returned texts or messages and is reportedly now out of state.
Thomas spoke to one man who said he is a friend of the ranch's owner.
"It's unfortunate that something like this has to happen. I understand a couple of employees said, 'I will stay and feed the animals for free, you don't have to pay me, until the state gets,' whatever happens with the state," the friend said.
The animal welfare group PETA is calling this apparent closure an early Christmas gift.
“I was thrilled to hear that it had closed,” said advocate Anna Ware. “it's just not right for these animals to be kept in this type of distressful situation.”
State and federal authorities said they were unaware of any closing and had not issued any recent orders.
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