Picnic In A Grotto

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.

4 thoughts on “Picnic In A Grotto”

  1. I love zoos. San Antonio, my home town, has one of the best zoos in the nation. It’s set in a magnificent park. Seeing the entire zoo afoot would require marathon training. There are little “trains” one can take.

    I always loved the sound of a zoo. Ours sounded like peacocks and grackles and trumpeting elephants. The flamingos were one of the first sights upon entering the zoo. I think they are gorgeous, but they and the pond/lake they inhabit have a certain smell, not altogther pleasant, that I can recall to this day.

    Hope your poor tootsies have recovered. I now buy all my clothes around what will look acceptable with my comfort shoes, which is all I will wear.

    I haven’t seen the movie “Anchorman”. I have a confession. I dislike Will Ferrell – or rather, I dislike the character he seems to play in every movie. I can’t remember which of his earlier flicks it was I tried to watch, and was too disgusted/bored to sit through in its entirety. I just don’t find his “humor” humorous. However, I do absolutely love the skit he does with the toddler who is his “landlord” and comes to collect rent. Of course, it’s the tot who makes that funny, not him.

  2. Yes, yes, the feet are fine again. This little outing happened a few years ago, at the beginning of my “training” as an Angeleno. I have learned a lot meanwhile and I also am the proud owner of proper hiking boots by now. I have not abandoned my high heels – I just do not take long hikes in them any longer.

    My personal favorite amongst zoos I have visited is the one in San Diego. Maybe the one in San Antonio is just as nice (or the other way around). Both of them seem to be rather largish; in San Diego they have buses running through the area for those less inclined to spend a day walking.

    As to Will Ferrell – I share your sentiment. “Anchorman” came across my way because I worked on it (translating). Otherwise I would never have seen the movie. But I must say, the scene in the zoo is hilarious, because they have not only actors & bears & a dog involved, but also a Giant Panda about to give birth.

    Apropos pandas – you do know this TV ad, don’t you? It is a classic. Enjoy. 🙂


  3. What a great ad!

    I think the San Diego Zoo is usually considered the finest in the US. The San Antonio Zoo, at least on this list comes in at a respectable # 7. Not bad for a town of only about 1 million or so. Its zoo has been recognized as one of the top 10 since I was a girl, and it really wasn’t all that big a town back then.

  4. Years ago, when I was still in advertising, we waited every year for the “Cannes Rolle” to come into the cinemas. This was basically a compilation of all the best ads from the advertising festival held in Cannes.

    This festival is still a big event in Cannes, but with the Internet one does not need to wait for the film to come out. Way back then one did not dare to miss it – your reputation would have been shot once and for all.

    This ad actually received a Lion (the equivalent to an Oscar), if I remember correctly. I fondly remember those times, it was great to see good advertising from all over the world.

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