End of an era: Griffith Park pony rides officially closes

It's the end of an era… after 74 years the popular Griffith Park Pony Rides shut down for good Wednesday. 

The last day of operation was December 21. 

It is not clear what will replace the attraction, but the public did get the opportunity to weigh in during a virtual meeting. 

Some said another animal attraction should be added, while animal rights groups oppose that idea. 

Griffith Park Pony Rides has faced backlash from animal rights activists and the group Los Angeles Animal Alliance (LAAA). Demonstrators had been protesting the rides weekly for months and claimed the animals were being abused and overworked in hot temperatures during the summer months.


The animals and property have undergone several vigorous inspections from Los Angeles officials.  In January after receiving multiple calls reporting animal abuse at the pony rides, City Council Members, Nithya Raman and Paul Koretz filed a motion calling for a third-party assessment of the facility.

City officials said they did not renew the contract due to a lack of transparency with the owner, Stephen Weeks, over four horse deaths.

FOX 11's Hal Eisner asked owner Weeks where the horses will go to. Weeks said the 36 animal sanctuaries, rescue ranches and individual horse owners. 

Griffith Park Pony Rides has been in operation since 1948. Richard Almeida came from Upland. He remembers riding the ponies in 1953. He and his wife brought their daughter and their grandchild.

Monique Herd told FOX 11 she remembers riding the ponies and keeps pictures of those days.

"I’m 45, I know I was here when I was two so at least 43 years," she said.

Zarina Navarro remembered her dad, Alex Leiva, bringing her here as a child. Now she brings her child. She says it's generational for her family.

As for the closing, she says, "It’s sad because it’s a family tradition."