Visiting the old Zoo, set high in a canyon of Griffith Park, jolts you to a past where animals were kept in solitary confinement, Alcatraz fashion; like Alcatraz, it’s now defunct but evocative of a time gone-by: the modern LA Zoo is a tranquil botanical garden a few miles along the road, where animals hang out and play.
Humans have always been fascinated by wild animals – from Emperors and Kings, who kept them as pets, to the common masses, who’ve paid money to gawk in awe and fear. Thick iron bars made people feel safe; there was no awareness of the creatures’ comfort, habits or natural life-style. Built in 1912, the Old Zoo was popular with locals and housed big cats, monkeys, wolves, bears, and elephants! Must have been the pygmy ones, I hope.
Now, the Old Zoo is a haven for hikers, the curious, taggers, families having picnics, photo shoots, and worth visiting if you are fascinated by history, enjoy hiking, and love feeling removed from the city. And it’s free! Take the 5 freeway, get off on Zoo Drive, follow the signs for the Merry-Go-Round, park, then head up the trail, and keep going until you find yourself at cages, which would not have been out-of-place in Dumbo! Took these shots a few days ago…
Yelp link with map/reviews – http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-old-zoo-los-angeles-2?start=40
In 1966, the new LA zoo opened; when I visited there years ago, I was shocked at the enclosures/sadness of the inhabitants, and avoided it until last year, preferring San Diego Zoo. I’m delighted to report the LA Zoo is now one of my favorite ways to spend a weekday morning. Armed with my camera, I arrive as they open at 10am, then walk rapidly up the hill, to the right, away from the packs of school children and parents with strollers – most people go left, downhill. I am mostly alone for about an hour until I meet everyone coming from the other direction! I love to wander the tree-lined paths, talk to the animals, take their portraits, while getting a mini-hike in. The first gallery is overview of the zoo, with the natural phenomena, fully functioning carousel, and no official exhibits.
If you live in the area, it’s worth getting the LA Zoo year-long, tax-deductible, membership – individual is $55, and you get reduced admission to many other zoos across the country, and discount in the wee shop. For more information: http://www.lazoo.org/
As you can see by my photos, the animals are healthy, happy, flourishing and are as curious about us as we are about them….
Like most good zoos in the civilized world, the LA Zoo aims to keep the animals safe and happy, are trying to prevent extinction, aim to educate future generations on why preserving wildlife is so crucial to the planet, and give sanctuary to those without a home.
Residents of Los Angeles will probably remember the saga of Reggie, the alligator, who hung out for 2 years in a lake at an LA Park; he eluded all attempts at capture, gathered a huge fan base, even had his own website! http://savereggie.blogspot.com/ Now, he’s happy and adored in the LA Zoo; first exhibit on the right at the top of the stairs – you’ll find him sunning himself on a rock!
When one respects the dignity of the animal kingdom, who are reliant on us not to kill them – all for our supposed beautification(furs of every cute animal), health (dried seahorses, tiger penis, shark fins), jewelry (rhino/elephant ivory) – we respect the planet and ourselves. Although I do draw the line at ugly, scary insects who decide to visit my house…cross the threshold and you will escorted outside or killed on the spot…
(I love the World Wildlife Fund for helping educate indigenous people of these faraway places, and give them a stake in saving their endangered wildlife, they’re doing something positive to protect our forests, oceans and animals – you can give a tax-deductible donation/find out more at: http://www.worldwildlife.org )
A new favorite, located In Palm Desert is the Living Desert – also tax-deductible and you get a year’s free admission. http://www.livingdesert.org/ Here are some of the shots I took the last time I was there…they have trails out the back, closed in the summer, from easy to seriously hard-core; from the easy lookout point, you can look across the valley and see the end of the infamous San Andreas Fault.
I also love/have been a member of the London Zoo, housed in Regent’s Park http://www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo and San Diego Zoo, in Balboa Park http://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/ Both places are worth visiting if you are ever in those cities.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my pictures of LA Zoo and beyond…I’d so much fun taking them; I believe the way one treats those perceived as less than ourselves, including animals, is a reflection of our true nature. Go hug a tree, pet a dog, love yourself, donate time or money to help keep our little planet healthy and sustainable for future generations….
There may be a time, not too far in the future, that the famous line from Wizard of Oz – “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” will only be true in our imaginations…and so many animals will be known only as animated characters in a Disney movie…who wants to live in a world like that?