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January 9, 2008

The Old Griffith Park Zoo

The Griffith Park Zoo - Opened in 1913 with 15 animals. Many of the enclosures were built in the 1930’s by Works Progress Administration crews and were made in the iron bars/pacing animal style that was standard for zoos of that era. The zoo was abandoned in 1966 when the current zoo opened.  

Today the cave enclosures have now been outfitted with picnic benches and grills. A trail leading up from the caves gives you a zookeeper’s view of the area and leads to ever more abandoned ruins.  Some of the iron gates of the cages are open, making the cages accessible to walk through.  It's a strange feeling entering a place where animals were previously caged.

The Griffith Park Zoo is not exactly abandoned, but the ruins can be easily found in the hillside.

My fascination with modern day ruins began with the old Griffith Park Zoo. Remember the movies Police Academy II and Drag Net I thought it would be awesome to track it down. As it turns out (and I haven't seen the movies in many, many years) it doesn't look like those movies were actually filmed at the old zoo.

Most of the photos on this page are pre-digital camera pictures I took.  As you check out the links you will see some better pictures.

Although Modern Day Ruins has not been successful in tracking any down, there are probably tons of people who have photo books of the Old Griffith Park Zoo from a time when it was littered with tourists and was the home to many zoo animals.

These days pictures are snapped with few tourists but lots of overgrown brush, graffitti and instead of animals, people like to take pictures of themselves inside the old cages.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Some of the ruins are in and around the picnic area and some are up in the hills - you need to hike to them. I'm sure there is more that I've missed.

"The Old Zoo picnic area, off Griffith Park Drive, a slightly eerie, but fascinating, spot. The tiny old cages that once housed the zoo's lions, tigers and monkeys, now contain picnic tables, outdoor grills, and graffiti."

The Old Zoo on Google Maps


Share your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Great post! We have some zoo ruins in my area also---one in Wilkes-Barre & one in Scranton Pennsylvania….it’s interesting to note the different approach used during each era when zoos were constructed. Thank goodness we’ve become more sensitive to the needs of animals….If you are interested, you can find my post about the abandoned zoo in Scranton Pennsylvania at:

  2. FYI, the scenes in Airplane! that supposedly took place in Africa (Peace Corps teaching kids to shoot hoops) were filmed in the Old Zoo. I was there watching at the time.


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