So, here is the thing about the LA Zoo. There are LOTS of children. Duh, I know, it's a freaking zoo for christssakes, but seriously, listen. THERE ARE A LOT OF CHILDREN. Children who push and trip and headbutt you as you are leaning over the rail trying to free the monkeys or steal the gazells graceful essence or whatever is your wont. I have never seen more strollers in my entire life than in the line to get into the zoo, the line which Matt and I stood in for THIRTY minutes after we had witnessed, in true LA style, a man who looked like a nice fat daddy getting arrested in front of his mini-van in the parking lot. The zoo is incredibly easy to get to(directions at the bottom) and remarkably cheap(parking is free, tix are only $13 for adults) but I would suggest not going on a Saturday morning like we did.
The Zoo is a dingy old-school attraction and when you first walk in it feels more like a cheap theme park than a zoo. The smell of churros and poo fills the air, children and animals scream, and those of you with social anxiety may find your hearts racing. If you are like me, and grew up back East with the open air variety of zoo, you may find the cages rather depressing, painted with fake foliage like a shady pet store and filled with lots of sad looking, furry brown mammals.
However, there are pockets of the zoo that are quiet and lovely. The layout is a giant loop and the further you get into the loop the more magnificent the animals and the less depressing the aura of the place. There is a kids petting zoo, a really lovely cactus garden, a beautiful Japanese pagoda and lots of damn impressive animals. Luckily Matt was with me, so he could actually tell me the full names, indigenous habitats and mating rituals of almost all these creatures.
There really is nothing like watching two snow leopard cubs go at it playfully. I have never been much for animals(humans and vintage dresses are more my speed), but as I craned my neck around the masses to get a better view of a cub stealing a pine cone from its brother, I heard myself sigh at the same time Matt and several others did, overwhelmed by the loveliness of it all.
Directions: Coming from Hollywood take the 1-5 N and merge onto the 134 E towards Pasadena. Keep right at the fork and follow signs for Zoo Road. The Zoo is directly across from the Autry National Museum.
Hours:10-5(open everyday but Xmass)
Price: Adults $13, Seniors $10, Children $8, Two and under free.
Picture by Matt Kane