Jungleland USA

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Jungleland USA was a private zoo, animal training facility, and animal theme park in Thousand Oaks, California, United States, on the current site of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.[1] At its peak the facility encompassed 170 acres (69 ha).[2]

Children on an elephant at Jungleland, 1962

Louis Goebel created Jungleland in 1926 as a support facility for Hollywood. He had been employed at Universal Studios when the studio decided to close its animal facility. Five of the Universal Studio lions formed the nucleus of Goebel's collection.[3] The facility was originally called "Goebel's Lion Farm."[4] Soon a wide variety of exotic animals were obtained, trained, and rented to the studios for use in films. The facility later became a theme park, opened to the public in 1929. Wild animal shows entertained thousands in the 1940s and 1950s. Mabel Stark, the "lady lion tamer", was featured in these shows; she also doubled for Mae West in the lion-taming scenes in the 1933 film I'm No Angel.[2] The zoo's residents included Leo the Lion, mascot of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio;[3] Mister Ed, the talking horse from the television show of the same name; Bimbo the elephant from the Circus Boy television series; and Tamba the chimpanzee, featured in the Jungle Jim movies and television series.[2]

Many TV and movie productions used the park's trained animals, and many productions were filmed there,[5] including Birth of a Nation, Tarzan,[4] Doctor Dolittle,[4] and The Adventures of Robin Hood. It was also featured prominently in an episode of the television show Route 66 (Season 2, Episode 30, "A Feat of Strength") which aired May 18, 1962.

The park made headlines in 1966 when a male lion at the compound named Sammy mauled the young son of actress Jayne Mansfield.[6] A barn fire in 1940 killed 12 of the animals including tigers, camels and elephants.[7]

Jungleland closed in October 1969, because of competition from other Southern California amusement parks, and because the facility "didn't blend in" with the increasingly urban character of Thousand Oaks. The company which owned the facilities declared bankruptcy and sold all the movable property at auction: animals, buildings, trucks, furniture and supplies.[4] Goebel retained ownership of the land, which was eventually sold to the city to create the Civic Arts Plaza and other developments.

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References[edit]

  1. ^ "Thousand Oaks: Council to Consider Bids on Jungleland". Los Angeles Times. May 19, 1992. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Jungleland of Thousand Oaks". stagecoachmuseum.org. Retrieved 2 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Louis Goebel (obituary)". AP, cited by the Toledo Blade. April 2, 1981. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Curtain to fall on Jungleland". AP, cited by The Free Lance-Star. October 7, 1969. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "Ventura County's Micky Dolenz talks about The Monkees new tour". Ventura County Star. November 8, 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Lion Mauls Actress' Son". AP, cited by the Eugene Register-Guardian. November 27, 1966. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Spectacular blaze kills movie animals". AP, cited by The Palm Beach Post. July 11, 1940. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 

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Coordinates: 34°10′27″N 118°50′51″W / 34.174095°N 118.847544°W / 34.174095; -118.847544