Victory! Los Angeles Ends Suffering of Geriatric Ponies at Griffith Park
We’re thrilled to claim a decisive victory for animals as Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo closes its doors for good on December 22, 2022, marking the end of 74 years of animal suffering in the park. On December 3, the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks announced its decision not to renew the contract for 2023 after one year of unrelenting activism by In Defense of Animals, Los Angeles Alliance for Animals, and dedicated local activists.
Together, we exposed abuse by showing how senior ponies were overworked without rest, did not receive water for long periods, and were denied protection against hot temperatures. Workers prodded ponies for several hours to provide rides to children when they refused to move any further. Other animals were documented suffering, including a sheep in distress and rabbits sitting in the hot sun with no shade or water in the petting zoo over the summer.
Public pressure prompted the City of Los Angeles to assign a third-party equine veterinarian to report on the well-being of the ponies and horses at Griffith Park Pony Rides. The veterinarian reported ponies with untreated saddle sores, hoof issues, lameness, and dental problems. Based on dental examinations, the vet found many ponies to be in their senior years, between 20 and 30 years old — an age when they should be enjoying retirement, nevermind the question of whether they should have ever been forced to work in the first place.
Over the past year, we mounted a successful pressure campaign against Griffith Park Pony Rides. We sent over one thousand emails, provided testimonials at Los Angeles City Council meetings, and enlisted actress Richa Moorjani to support this worthy cause. We urged decision-makers to replace this concession and called for all of the animals at Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo to retire to a sanctuary. Now we’re helping to identify accredited sanctuary placement for the animals including 38 ponies, seven lambs, two rabbits, and two sheep.
Thanks to your support, Los Angeles Recreation and Park Commissioners, City Council, and Mayor Eric Garcetti heard our concerns, stopped this perpetual cycle of animal cruelty, and sent a strong message that animals are not carnival equipment. Ending this pony ride and petting zoo contract sets a positive precedent and ends a bygone era of tolerating animal suffering for entertainment. Now, these elderly ponies who have suffered so long have a chance at a better life, and Griffith Park has the opportunity to educate visitors without harming animals. Environmental education provides safe opportunities for families to learn how to coexist with wild animals who reside within the park, including famed mountain lion P-22.
Please continue to support our campaigns to liberate animals from suffering by making a donation today!