After more than 70 years, Griffith Park Pony Rides to close this month

Ponies inside a fenced enclosure
Ponies rest in their enclosure at Griffith Park in 2021. The attraction is set to close by the end of the year.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Griffith Park’s beloved and historic pony ride will close for good in the coming weeks, after more than 70 years in operation.

Griffith Park Pony Rides, which opened in 1948 and also features a petting zoo, will shutter Dec. 21, owner Steve Weeks announced Sunday on Facebook. Weeks said that the city of Los Angeles decided not to renew his business’ contract.

“In the days ahead I will be attempting to find forever homes for our many ponies,” Weeks wrote on Facebook. “I am determined to find homes for our ponies with qualified horse-people who will care as much about our ponies as I do.”

The pony rides have been under scrutiny in recent years by animal welfare activists who claimed that horses at the facility are overworked. Last year, the Los Angeles Alliance for Animals called for a citywide ban on commercial pony rides.


“The pony rides concession is animal cruelty disguised as child entertainment,” the group said in a statement in December 2021.

In response, two City Council members asked the Department of Recreation and Parks to hire an outside equestrian expert to assess the well-being of horses used in the popular attraction. It is unclear whether those assessments took place.

In a statement Sunday, the Department of Recreation and Parks confirmed its decision to not extend the attraction’s contract, but did not explain why the city made that choice.

“At the request of the City Council, the Department will undertake a community input process to re-imagine the recreational and educational activities offered at this location in Griffith Park to continue providing youth and families an affordable and enjoyable experience,” the statement read.

Weeks, who has owned the business for the last six years, told The Times last year that protests at his facility have resulted in a lot of unhappy customers. Children have been screamed at by protesters, he said, and he has had to refund birthday party fees.

The founder of the Los Angeles Alliance for Animals, Zohra Fahim, said in 2021 that she recorded video that shows handlers neglecting and abusing horses at the facility. Fahim claims the general public does not spend enough time at the corral to see the treatment the horses receive.

Weeks has denied any abuse of his horses, and told The Times last year that two veterinarians check on the animals regularly. “I have nothing to hide about our operations,” Weeks said.