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Old L.A. Zoo

5333 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA
| +1 323-644-4200
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A haunting, historical look into humanity? Los Angeles California United States

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Sun - Sat 10am - 5pm

A haunting, historical look into humanity?

The original Los Angeles Zoo opened in 1912, and during its infancy, grew to include a number of animal enclosures designed to mimic natural habitats. Decades later, however, it became apparent that environments once thought to be safe and humane were actually in desperate need of modernization. Zoo owners chose relocation over renovation, and in 1965, uprooted their animal population to a new address a few miles north. In the 45 years since, remnants of the old zoo were simply left to rot.

It’s only recently that the grounds have reopened to the public. (Of course, that does not mean trespassers haven’t been tramping through its ruins for decades.)

A visit here could easily be likened to an episode of "Life After People," the program depicting what Earth might look like if humans suddenly vanished from its surface. Sweeping Spanish moss and wilting trees encroach all around, suffocating the archaic, rusty structures originally built back in the ‘30s.

Feeling adventurous? Peek inside the enclosures where gorillas and bears would have been led in and out by caretakers. We were surprised how easy it was to garner access to this seemingly dangerous underbelly. Still, it was thrilling to crawl along the hallway connecting cages with a clearance of only 4 ft. or less. Traipsing up, inside and over barbaric cages, we felt like archaeologists exploring some long-abandoned temple. Bring your camera. The decay here is almost too perfectly on display.