MEDIA RELEASE: Victory! Los Angeles Ends Suffering of Geriatric Ponies at Griffith Park
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 5, 2022) — In Defense of Animals and Los Angeles Alliance for Animals claim a decisive victory for animals as Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo will be forced to stop operating in the park by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. The department announced its decision not to renew the contract for 2023 on Dec. 3. As of Dec. 22, the business will be closed to the public marking the end of 74 years of animal suffering, as reported by NBC Los Angeles.
“We’re thrilled that the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks has addressed concerns raised by over 1,000 In Defense of Animals supporters, actress Richa Moorjani, and the Los Angeles Alliance for Animals,” said Lisa Levinson, Los Angeles County resident and Campaigns Director at In Defense of Animals. “Ending this pony ride and petting zoo contract sets a positive precedent and ends a bygone era of treating animals as commodities without considering their emotional and physical wellbeing. Now is the perfect time to switch all city parks to non-animal entertainment models. Many options are available, including environmental education, where families can learn how to respect and care for native plants and animals within the park. We urge the Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo to send its previously working animals to a sanctuary.”
“We're at a time right now that we need to not have pony rides because it's teaching children the wrong lesson that these ponies are carnival equipment, and they're not,” Zohra Fahim, Founder and President of Los Angeles Alliance for Animals told NBC4 News. “He has pushed geriatric ponies in Los Angeles heat waves up to 100 degrees. We have ponies not having water, not just once, but multiple times over a year I have documented.”
“We are grateful that the city has taken the appropriate steps to close down Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo. Animal abuse and cruelty don’t align with the values of Angelenos,” Fahim stated to In Defense of Animals.
In Defense of Animals partnered with the Los Angeles Alliance for Animals to expose footage showing how senior ponies were overworked without rest, did not receive water for long periods, and were denied protection against hot temperatures. Workers prodded 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 wellbeing 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.
Over the past year, In Defense of Animals has encouraged supporters to reach out to Los Angeles Recreation and Park Commissioners, City Council, and Mayor Eric Garcetti to take action on these animal welfare issues at Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo and eliminate pony ride concession contracts in the city, so this type of neglect cannot happen elsewhere.
In Defense of Animals supporters sent over 1,000 emails urging decision-makers to replace this concession, and calling for all of the animals at Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo to retire to a sanctuary.
On Dec. 1, Katie Nolan, General Campaigner for In Defense of Animals spoke at the Los Angeles City Council meeting to oppose the continued suffering of ponies at Griffith Park.
“We are very grateful to Richa Moorjani and everyone who took action for the ponies, and most of all to the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks,” said Nolan. “The department’s decision sends a message that Los Angeles will not tolerate animal suffering for entertainment. We urge the city to adopt an animal-free entertainment policy and encourage operator Steve Weeks to send these ponies to the sanctuary arranged for them. Now, these elderly ponies have a chance at a better life, and Griffith Park has the opportunity to educate visitors in a more positive way. All the animals deserve a life worth living, and especially the senior animals who have suffered so long.”
Los Angeles-based actress Richa Moorjani joined In Defense of Animals in November to call for an end to animal abuse at the Griffith Park Pony Ride and Petting Zoo. Photos: Los Angeles Alliance for Animals, Richa Moorjani/Instagram
In November, actress Richa Moorjani, well-known for her portrayal of Kamala in the Netflix comedy-drama series Never Have I Ever, joined In Defense of Animals in urging the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to eliminate pony ride concession contracts in the city. Mistreatment at Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo prompted the Los Angeles star to call on city leaders to send all the animals to a sanctuary and replace the park with a non-animal model.
“Elderly ponies and horses are being abused and neglected for entertainment, right in the heart of Los Angeles, it is beyond disheartening,” Moorjani said at the time. “Horses are highly intelligent, emotional and sensitive beings that deserve to live and roam freely, not exploited for profit in the name of ‘fun.’ The conditions these animals are forced to work in are disturbing and unacceptable, and it is heartbreaking to see their very evident suffering. I urge you to please join me and stand with In Defense of Animals — demand the Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo be replaced with non-animal ‘entertainment,’ and send all of the animals to a sanctuary where they can be given a chance to live happily without suffering.”
Thanks to Los Angeles Parks and Recreation’s decision not to renew the Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo concession contract and the dedication of Los Angeles animal activists, Moorjani’s vision of the ponies living happily ever after is one step closer to becoming a reality.
### NOTES ###
In Defense of Animals: Lisa Levinson, (215) 620-2130, email@example.com
Los Angeles Alliance for Animals: Zohra Fahim, (619) 964-0981 Alliance.firstname.lastname@example.org
Original images & video:
Courtesy of Los Angeles Alliance for Animals: https://bit.ly/GriffPkPonies
Cancel the Contract: Griffith Park Pony Rides & Petting Zoo https://youtu.be/T49fDUjig4g
Retire Suffering Ponies From Griffith Park Pony Rides & Petting Zoo https://youtu.be/ctS_h0jVTSM
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin County, California, with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as its hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org
Los Angeles Alliance for Animals is one of the only equine protection groups in Los Angeles dedicated to eliminating horse and pony abuse. Our groundbreaking work has brought exposure to the unjust and unfair treatment of the geriatric ponies at Griffith Park and Pony Ride and Petting Zoo, and the ongoing suffering they endure at the hands of the City of Los Angeles. www.facebook.com/groups/banhorsecrueltylosangeles
### ENDS ###