Griffith Park Zoo

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Griffith Park Zoo
Griffith Park Zoo (B9957).jpg
Zoo circa 1940
Date opened1912
Date closedAugust 1966
LocationLos Angeles, California
Coordinates34°08′01″N 118°17′20″W / 34.1337°N 118.2888°W / 34.1337; -118.2888Coordinates: 34°08′01″N 118°17′20″W / 34.1337°N 118.2888°W / 34.1337; -118.2888

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.[1]


The first zoo in Los Angeles was the Eastlake Zoo in East Los Angeles, which opened in 1885.[2]:37 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.[2]:35 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.[3]

It was expanded in the 1930s by work crews from the Works Progress Administration.[2]:35 Most of the enclosures were built in the caves-with-iron-bars style which was then standard for zoos.[4]

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",[5] despite drawing more than 2 million visitors a year.[6] In 1958 the city passed a $8 million bond measure to create a brand new zoo.[2]:35 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.[7] The animal enclosures, with the bars removed, were left as ruins; picnic benches or tables were installed in some of them.[8]

Due to its proximity to Hollywood and the larger LA film industry, and its unusual appearance, the Zoo has been used as a shooting location for numerous film and television projects. The Zoo has been shown in at least two episodes of Starsky & Hutch, ("Pariah" and "Bloodbath"), as well as in the CHiPs episode "Supercycle". 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. It was "Zed's hideout" in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment[9] and was used 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'


  1. ^ "Old Zoo Picnic Area in Griffith Park". Hikespeak. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d E. j. Stephens; Marc Wanamaker (November 2011). Griffith Park. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-8883-4. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  3. ^ Andrew A. Erish (2012). Colonel William N. Selig, the Man who Invented Hollywood. University of Texas Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-292-74269-7. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  4. ^ "The Old Griffith Park Zoo | Photo books of the Old Zoo". Modern Day Ruins. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Old Griffith Park Zoo is 'Amazing Abandonment'". LA Curbed. December 19, 2007. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  6. ^ Eberts, Mike (1996). Griffith Park: A Centennial History. Historical Society of Southern California. p. 303.
  7. ^ "Zoo history: early years". Los Angeles Zoo. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Griffith Park activities". Department of Recreation and Parks. City of Los Angeles. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  9. ^

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