Crawling through the Abandoned Zoo in Griffith Park

In the vicinity of Los Angles lies Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Its 4,700 acres is home to an observatory, museum, zoo, several hiking trails, and the iconic Hollywood sign. But the most peculiar part is the abandoned zoo, a photographer’s dream. The zoo opened in 1912 but was abandoned in the 60s in favor of a new home a few miles away.

The zoo opened with 15 animals donated from a movie studio. As the animal collection grew but the zoo didn’t, it was criticized as being too small and rundown to house the animals properly. After the move, much of the zoo was torn down but some cages and enclosures still exist.

Although I hate to admit it, since I feel like the graffiti in the photos ups my street cred, it’s not a sketchy place to visit. The area was filled with families and photographers crawling through the cages. Not to mention, during the summer the lawn in front of the zoo hosts Shakespeare in the Park. Nothing kills the danger vibe like actors shouting lines like “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!” in English accents.

It’s easy to locate as Griffith Park has signs marking the way to the zoo or use Google Maps.

Old Zoo Gate
To get to the most interesting parts of the zoo (the tunnels), you will have to duck under this chainlink fence.
Cages at Old Los Angeles Zoo
Be sure to snap of photo of you (or preferably your kids) in one of the many cages.

Cages at Old Los Angeles Zoo

If you want to make a visit to the zoo into a hike, Bee Rock (approx. 2 miles) is a short trail that climbs to a graffitied rock overlooking the valley. The trailhead is past the zoo and, while it’s a good climb, it’s an easy hike. The directions I got for the trail didn’t quite jive with what I found and I know some people who got lost (there’s a maze of trails in Griffith Park that all look the same). I just plugged Bee Rock into my Google Maps and it took me most of the way (the last little bit was easy to find). The trail borders the old fence line of the zoo.

Bee Rock, Griffith Park

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