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Old Los Angeles Zoo 6.7.13

Old Los Angeles Zoo 6.7.13

It’s supposed to be around here somewhere, we followed the directions almost exactly. Suddenly we realize we are in a public picnic area, flourished with birthday parties, Frisbee games, and barbecues; is far from the eerily abandoned zoo we imagined. We continue on, passing several dog walkers, convinced we are lost, suddenly we stumble upon strangely organized rocks which can only be the beginnings of an animal enclosure. We clamber over some fences to stand in the place of–lions? lemurs? It is unclear what animal this space was intended for, especially since the rocks and fences are now crawling with groups of young children thriving on the natural gymnasium they create. We join their ranks, swapping climbing tips and secret routes to the inner cages. We howl like monkeys from the concrete buildings, and feel like zookeepers trekking into the tetanus-ridden passageways and cages hidden from public view. Here graffiti covers the walls, cigarette butts litter the ground, and we finally feel the confinement of being on exhibit inherent to a zoo. There is beauty too, in the overgrown greenery, street art, and adventure; encouraged by the excitement of the climbing kids. We leave this area and follow a trail originally intended for zoo visitors. We pass decrepit barns and cages until we reach the point where zoo construction has ceased. The metal fences and rocks grow less and less frequent, and the landscape is once more overtaken by piñatas and SUVs. We wonder, not for the first time, what kind of local anomaly we have just emerged from.

Photos by Jordan Romanoff

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