Confrontation erupts on last day of operation at Griffith Park pony rides

Eric Resendiz Image
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Confrontation erupts on last day of Griffith Park pony rides
On the last day of operation of the iconic pony rides at Griffith Park, a confrontation took place.

GRIFFITH PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A confrontation took place on the last day of operation of the iconic Pony Rides and Petting Zoo at Griffith Park.

It was animal rights advocates versus those in favor of keeping the place open.

There was tugging of each other's signs and park rangers showed up to keep things peaceful.

The pony rides, a Los Angeles tradition since 1948, are coming to an end. Some parents who first came here when they were children brought their own kids to ride the ponies one last time.

The wait time was four hours on the last day.

"It is a sad day. That is why I am bringing my kids for the last day, so they get a chance to have this experience. Because this is a part of LA's charm and Griffith Parks' charm and it's going to be lost," said Sheida Ashley, who took her kids on the last day.

The permanent closure of the establishment is coming after allegations of animal mistreatment at the facility.

Earlier this month the city of Los Angeles announced the attraction's contract with the city will expire as of Wednesday and it will not be extended.

Protesters have been at the site mostly on weekends accusing the establishment of animal cruelty after four ponies died. They are demanding an investigation into the owner.

"We want to educate these people who are here that these kind of rides should not exist and should be over with," said protester Sandra Bell.

In a statement a few weeks ago Councilmember Nithya Raman said: "Following several reports from a third-party equine veterinarian, it became clear that the City of Los Angeles could not in good faith move forward with the extension of this contract. Griffith Park is in need of affordable amenities that let families connect with nature, but we need to look into alternative models that are safe and healthy for both children and animals. "

Pony ride owner Steve Weeks said the animals were not mistreated and veterinarians decided to euthanize them because of health complications and old age.

"The only reports the city got about mistreatment was from the protesters themselves. The vet check showed there was nothing irregular going wrong with the ponies," said Weeks.

One advocate named Ida in favor of keeping the site open started a petition so the city would change its mind and extend the lease agreement.

"This ride is so important for the children of Los Angeles and the community. The pony rides are just irreplaceable. It's a historical landmark," said Ida.

Weeks said they have 90 days to vacate the property. He's found forever homes for all of the animals, including some heading to sanctuaries. As for the 17 employees at the site, all of them will be left without a job.

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