From Silver to Salamanders

Andy Sabin is a renowned conservationist who was a founder of the South Fork Natural History Museum
Andy Sabin is proud of the many-colored eggs his exotic chickens lay.

The purple martins had just returned from South America on May 3, when Andy Sabin showed off 10 gourds in each of three colonies he had set out for them.

Mr. Sabin is a renowned conservationist who was a founder of the South Fork Natural History Museum and has houses here on Bluff Road in Amagansett,  and in Springs. The Amagansett property not only has purple-martin houses, but three beehives and three ponds filled with frogs and turtles, which he has collected since childhood. He also grows organic produce from seed, propagating plants under lamps in his greenhouse.

Mr. Sabin — whose day job is running the Sabin Metal Corporation, an enterprise his father started that was once said to be the largest private refinery of silver, gold, and platinum in the world — has rescued many animals. At his Amagansett house in May he had 10 enormous rabbits called Flemish giants, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named Wally, two pairs of peacocks, three goats, different species of hens that lay colored eggs, and a cat that he took in after its owner moved to South Dakota. 

Ever since his mother found roaming cats and dogs on Brooklyn streets and brought them to their small apartment, Mr. Sabin has been enamored of animals. 

“Between the ages of 6 and 8 is when an interest in conservation is created,” he said the other day. By buying land from the estates of several neighbors, he has been able to expand his Bluff Road base to seven acres.

In 1988 Mr. Sabin and a few other naturalists started what they called the Nature Clubhouse in Amagansett. Eventually it became the South Fork Natural History Museum on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, which is today a state-of-the-art museum, with exhibits, galleries, and touch tanks. Mr. Sabin, an amateur herpetologist, helped rediscover the endangered eastern tiger salamander on the South Fork in 1986, and he takes children and adults on nighttime hikes in marshy places to see them.

He also has emerged as a leading supporter of climate change initiatives, including the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University and has provided environmental fellowships at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His political commitment to President Trump, of which he is proud, has not dampened his environmental efforts. 

Mr. Sabin has sponsored research fellowships at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and in 2007 he established the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, which donates money to hundreds of organizations around the world.

Mr. Sabin also is a distance cyclist and a member of JABOGs, Just a Bunch of Guys, which has taken mountain-biking trips in Mongolia, Tibet, Japan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines, as well as through Europe. The group takes school supplies and soccer balls to children in isolated places, mostly in Asia.

Mr. Sabin’s animals, ponds, beehives, and vegetable garden require two year-round caretakers and two part-timers. He also raises pheasants from day-old chicks for the State of New York. He said that they need an inside temperature of 100 degrees until their feathers come in. He likes the idea of bringing more pheasants to Long Island even though New York State allows them to be hunted.

And perhaps even more notable: Andrew Sabin will live on in conservation circles not only because he makes generous donations but because a dwarf lemur, a pigmy chameleon, and two species of frog have been named for him.

One of his Flemish giant rabbits gets a treat.
The goats are friendly and eat bananas as well as carrots.
The sign in this pond on his Amagansett property might more aptly read Beware of Attack Pig.
A newly arrived purple martin has many houses to choose among.
The male of a white peacock couple would not reveal the spread of his tailfeathers.