My first visit to the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park was a bit of a disaster. Not knowing then that the park is a bit larger than usual (as far as parks go) I imagined that a pleasant stroll on a lovely Sunday would be a perfect way to pass the time. Nobody pointed out to me that my attire of summer dress and high heeled sandals might not be quite the proper hiking gear; in fact, nobody told me that the pleasant stroll I had envisioned would be a hike of two miles.
Upon finally arriving at the zoo I was in pain. My feet were burning and throbbing; my teeth were hurting, too, from grinding them. I could do nothing about the pain in my jaw, but for the feet there was an instant cure: The flamingo pond opposite the entrance. I hobbled over there, took off my shoes and stuck my feet into the water. I am sure I heard a slight hissing sound as they sunk into the silken cool wetness. I closed my eyes. Sheer bliss.
When I opened my eyes again, all those flamingos had turned their heads towards me. I swear, the collective look of disgust on their faces said very clearly: “Good grief, woman, we drink that water!”
I am not sure whether they had a flamingo pond at the Old Zoo. Actually I am not sure what types of animals they had there at all, because it must have been a pretty small place. It certainly was a zoo of the type one (luckily) does not find any longer – with small cages and stockades that the animals on exhibit were just stuck into.
When, in the middle of the ‘60s, the zoo moved to its new and present location about a mile away, the abandoned site just sat there. A while later the area was transformed into a picnic ground with lovely lawns. The old grottoes were fitted with barbecue pits, tables and benches – voila, a perfect setting for an outing with the family and lots of exciting places for the kids to explore.
These grottoes were also used as a location for “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” Yes, the wacky scene with Christina Applegate, Will Ferrell, the bears and Baxter the dog was shot here, because neither the L.A. nor the San Diego Zoo could quite stomach the idea of having the Hollywood madcaps on their premises.