Opened in 1912, the Griffith Park Zoo was criticized as ugly, poorly designed and under-financed. However, it remained a popular site for visitors, serving also as a source of distraction from social troubles during WWII and the Depression. During its active years, the zoo was always experiencing difficulties, including sewage leaking into the LA River and meat shortages in properly feeding the animals. In addition, the zoo gained a reputation of strange happenings, from recurring turtle fights to a leopard dying of fright. The zoo finally closed in 1966 with the moving of animals to better facilities in the newly opened LA Zoo. The site still remains a quirky, ramshackle, yet popular recreational site, now as a hiking trail and photography setting. Empty of animals, the structures are now worn down by natural elements, as well as human vandalism and pollution. Visitors are able to enter the abandoned cages and facilities previously lived in by animals and to some extent experience and view the space from the animals’ perspective.
Documenting the now abandoned zoo through photographs, I compiled the images into a book that aims to steadily immerse and guide the viewer through the zoo. Photographs of the zoo's deteriorating state are juxtaposed with excerpts from the Los Angeles Times about the Old Griffith Zoo during its active days. The articles paint a bizarre contrast of a vibrant, fantastical place of thriving nature and entertainment in comparison to the harsh reality of the zoo's poor facilities.