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zoo enclosure

In this blog post, we will explore the abandoned LA old zoo in Griffith Park.

It opened in 1912 and closed in 1966 when the Los Angeles Zoo opened. It is now a picnic area.

The Griffith Park Zoo was the first in the city of Los Angeles, originally opening its doors in 1885. With a total of 15 species of animals, the Griffith Park Zoo made its public debut in 1912 and more than a decade later. Later, producer William Nicholas Selig donated the animals he used in his shoots for it to become a theme park.

Griffith Park Zoo/Wikipedia

Around 1930, the expansion project began at the Griffith Park Zoo and caves were built with iron bars to separate the animal species. Despite initially being a success and more than 2 million people visiting the site annually, the Griffith Park Zoo was forced to close its doors due to criticism of the poor state of the animals, poor conditions, and the poor construction of the park at a time when the city of Los Angeles was growing like a metropolis.

In 1958, Los Angeles decided to build its own zoo so that the animals would have optimal living conditions and that the residents would have a pleasant experience on each visit. The construction of the new theme park cost around $8 million and this put the Griffith Park Zoo on the ropes since they could not compete and eventually closed its doors in 1966. That same year, in the month of November the zoo opened from Los Angeles and was located only two miles from the previous one.

A new tourist place

The Griffith Park Zoo was abandoned after 1966, leaving behind the iron cages and several tables that are used for picnics today. People who now visit these ruins can walk through the entire park and see what the zoo was like before and can even compare it with the current one. Walking sites have also been built around the old zoo which is now a very popular place for locals and visitors alike.

Griffith Park Zoo/Wikipedia

How to get there?

Many visitors to Griffith Park take advantage of the short distance to the zoo, often combining it with other attractions. If you’re up for a slightly longer stroll, consider adding a half-mile detour through the serene Fern Canyon. Start from the parking area and head uphill, taking the right fork just before the Mineral Wells Trail. This fire road will lead you northeast, where you’ll soon encounter the first remnants of the zoo—a deserted cage and a maintenance shed. A little further along, you’ll reach the Old Zoo Picnic Area. Here, you can take a 0.2-mile loop past the unused animal habitats and perhaps enjoy a snack on the lawn beneath a majestic sycamore tree.

Once you’ve explored the old zoo grounds, you have two options for your return journey. You can retrace your steps, or if you prefer a different route and don’t mind walking on pavement, continue past the zoo through Spring Canyon and make your way back to the parking lot. To access the Fern Canyon Trail, exit the parking lot once again and take the second single-track trail that veers off to the left (not the Mineral Wells Trail.) This trail will lead you upwards to a junction where the two forks reunite. The left fork offers the more picturesque route. As you ascend, you’ll encounter wooden steps winding through an enchanting oak grove. Crossing a footbridge, you’ll eventually arrive at the quaint Fern Canyon Amphitheater. Here, you can find solace on a wooden beam nestled into the hillside, basking in the tranquility and leaving the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind. Although Fern Canyon may bear some signs of neglect, it remains a delightful oasis where one can easily find respite.