Groups sue city of L.A. over planned zoo expansion

Los Angeles Zoo.
Two groups have sued the city over its approval of an expansion plan for the Los Angeles Zoo.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Two groups sued the city of Los Angeles on Wednesday over its planned renovation of the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park.

Friends of Griffith Park and the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that the city failed to adequately consider the environmental impacts of the proposed zoo makeover.

Ivor Pine, a spokesperson for City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto, declined to comment.

The Los Angeles City Council last month backed a major renovation of the zoo, which city leaders want to upgrade ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympics. Their plan calls for expanded conservation efforts and more space for animals.


Zoo officials also envision a new visitor center and condor exhibit, both of which are criticized by hillside neighborhood and environmental groups as harmful to the habitat.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday says that the zoo renovation would include the removal of 16 acres of Griffith Park’s native California chaparral. The lawsuit also claims that the zoo’s emphasis on adding an “entertainment venue and event center” would bring more light and noise to the area.

The L.A. City Council voted Wednesday to back a planned renovation of the L.A. Zoo that was criticized by neighborhood and environmental groups.

Aug. 2, 2023

Those changes will have negative effects on bat species, according to the lawsuit. Additionally, a potential condor-themed canyon would require construction and “introduce new barriers to wildlife movement,” according to the lawsuit.

The Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust is named after the man who bequeathed the land that is now known as Griffith Park to the city. The trust helped support the construction of the Greek Theatre and Griffith Observatory.

The trust’s mission is to keep the park free and open to the public, trustee Clare Darden said.

“It’s parkland, not land to be developed any more than it is,” Darden said. “That’s what makes Griffith Park so unique.”


Officials have made clear that the details of the zoo makeover aren’t final. Officials might use a “tunnel” to create a condor exhibit, rather than carve into the hills and make a canyon, as originally planned.

The lack of details is another reason that Friends of Griffith Park wants a do-over.

“It’s totally inappropriate to approve an [environmental impact review] when you don’t know what you’re going to build,” said Marian Dodge, past president of Friends of Griffith Park and a member of the group’s subcommittee on the zoo plan.