Puneet Varma

Griffith Park Zoo

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Date opened  1912
Date closed  August 1966
Griffith Park Zoo
Location  Los Angeles, California

Griffith Park Zoo was a city-owned zoo in Los Angeles, California that opened in 1912 and closed in 1966 with the opening of the Los Angeles Zoo. The abandoned site of the Griffith Park Zoo, complete with the ruins of animal enclosures, is now a picnic area and hiking trail in Griffith Park.


The first zoo in Los Angeles was the Eastlake Zoo in East Los Angeles, which opened in 1885. The Griffith Park Zoo opened in 1912 with a grand total of 15 animals. The new zoo was built on the site of Griffith J. Griffith's defunct ostrich farm. In the mid 1920s, film producer William Nicholas Selig donated many of the animals from his studios, which he had attempted to convert into an animal theme park, to the new zoo.

It was expanded in the 1930s by work crews from the Works Progress Administration. Most of the enclosures were built in the caves-with-iron-bars style which was then standard for zoos.

As Los Angeles grew, the small Griffith Park Zoo was increasingly criticized as an "inadequate, ugly, poorly designed and under-financed collection of beat-up cages", despite drawing more than 2 million visitors a year. In 1958 the city passed a $8 million bond measure to create a brand new zoo. Griffith Park Zoo closed in August 1966 and its animals were transferred to the new Los Angeles Zoo 2 miles away, which opened in November 1966. The animal enclosures, with the bars removed, were left as ruins; picnic benches or tables were installed in some of them.

The Zoo has been shown in at least one Episode of Starsky and Hutch, (the episode "Pariah"), as well as in theCHiPs episode "Supercyle". The area is also shown in the recently made historically-based cop drama Aquarius, set just after the Zoo closed. It was also used in two episodes of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman entitled "Mind Stealers from Outer Space" Pts I & II, and in the Rush Hour television series episode "Captain Cole's Playlist". It also features in the 2012 independent movie by Sean S. Baker called 'Starlet'

  • The ruins of unused cages and animal housing remaining in Griffith Park
  • References

    Griffith Park Zoo Wikipedia

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