February 25, 2013

what remains

My friends Frank and Norbert are visiting from Berlin, so I'm getting to play a bit of tour guide while they're here. Yesterday en route to Griffith Observatory, we took a bit of time to explore the ruins of the old LA Zoo. Tucked away in Griffith Park, the old zoo is a couple miles south of the current location of the LA Zoo, and was its home from 1912 to 1965. The old zoo had a history of troubles, from only raising $2000 to build the original zoo, to problems with sickness and animal treatment (including a disastrous period where the city council forbid the zoo to feed beef to its animals). Many buildings and features were built in the 30's by the WPA, but it was still subject to heavy criticism. Finally in 1958 voters authorized bonds to build the new zoo, which despite a media circus and political battle, opened in 1965. I was surprised, but pleased, how much of the old zoo is left open for the public to freely wander through. The bear enclosures are surely the star attraction, but the big cat cages and other assorted remains were pretty interesting as well. It certainly makes you glad the days of zoos using enclosures like this for animals are gone.

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