Commercial Deals Begin to Transform the Old Zoo Area in ­Griffith Park

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haunted-hayride2Publicly-traded giant Live Nation, sporting $6.5 billion in gross revenue last year, has taken an equity stake in the Haunted Hayride and the Horror Campout events whose home base has become the Old Zoo, the bucolic picnic area surrounded by wild lands and hiking trails in Griffith Park. The picnic site was formerly home to rock cages housing zoo animals until the 1960s when the Zoo moved to its present location. The Old Zoo is also the venue for seasonal Independent Shakespeare Company performances, Boy Scout programs and more.

Billionaire Mark Cuban previously invested $2 million in the company, Ten Thirty One Productions, which hosts the Haunted Hayride. Live Nation has now launched a dedicated webpage, “Griffith Park Old Zoo” as one of their event venues. While much of the community is carefully watching Live Nation as they attempt to take over the operation of the Greek Theatre from the Nederlander Family after nearly forty years, attention should also be focused on commercial use in the Old Zoo area.

The Old Zoo area is within the “wildlife area” and its remaining animal grottos are designated a “historically sensitive resource” by the Historic-Cultural Monument documents. Intermittent use of the grassy picnic area of the Old Zoo for early evening family-oriented performances is not a significant ecological threat. However, the current usage trend along with $5 million of proposed infrastructure sends fears that this area is being transformed into a cash generator for the City and Live Nation, at the expense of recreation and nature!

Friends of Griffith Park will continue to campaign for appropriate “conditions of use” to be established for this designated wildlife and historic area. Numerous organizations and park users join us in the effort to protect the Old Zoo area.

The spectre of death greeted visitors at the recent Haunted Hayride event and one exhibit displayed “remains” from twin guillotines, spilling down the slope.

Meanwhile, signage posted on fencing warned parents about the effects that some of the “Scary” exhibits might have on their children.

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