“An eerie, empty zoo abandoned since 1966”
This place is on private property. Listing for informational purposes only. Please do not visit without express permission from the land owner. The 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, William Nicholas Selig donated many of the animals from his own collection 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. Old cages with a sign explaining their historical background. 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, minus bars, were left as ruins; picnic benches or tables were installed in some of them. You might recognize the large animal exhibits from "Anchorman" - it's where they shot the climax of the film!
It's actually really easy to find. I was expecting to have to explore the woods for it, but there's a path. Lots of kids hanging out, and someone was having a birthday party inside one of the old lion den things. It goes on for a good bit, lots to explore, and some parts are more overgrown than others. Definitely worth a stop!
Walk across the field to the big structure, continue right uphill and you’ll see a split. To your left, there’s a gate and to your right it’s the paved path; both are old zoo so you can pick which way you want to explore first. Some cages could be blocked off by the park authority but someone always find a way to get in so look around and see which hole you can squeeze yourself through.
Remember to bring food, water, and blanket to sit on. It’s a park, so you should have a picnic after a few hours of exploring and walking. Take your time, and try to see everything. This place is BIG!
HOW TO GET HERE
After exiting the 5 from downtown LA, turn right to head toward Griffith Park, then you will see a stop sign intersection, go straight and then left at the second stop intersection. This zoo is BEFORE the current L.A. So if you start to see the golf course on your left and LA zoo sign, then you have gone too far. However, if you’re coming down south from L.A. zoo, stop at the first intersection, and then turn right. The rule is to keep following the sign for “Old Zoo Picnic Area”.
Once you make a turn at the intersection, stay left, and you will see a sign for “Old Zoo Picnic Area”, then turn left (don’t keep going straight uphill), and then you will see a row of cars park on your left. You can find a parking spot here; however, if it’s a weekend, you may have a hard time, so it’s okay to turn around and go find parking somewhere else. From the parking lot, continue to walk up hill and then you will see a giant open field of grass. Across the field, you will see a giant lion king style structure with three “doors”. Well, if you see this, then you’re in the right place.
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Griffith Park Zoo
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No Public Restrooms