Other closed animal theme parks in the Southland

Lion Country Safari
Tigers check out Bettie Kym Young, winner of Miss Los Angeles Chinatown, who visited Lion Country Safari on Jan. 25, 1974, to celebrate the Year of the Tiger.
(Los Angeles Times)

Japanese Village and Deer Park

Location: Buena Park

Closed: 1975

Scene: This Japanese-themed park was most famous for the deer that roamed around freely. There were also snowy pigeons, doves, black swans, and brown bears. The park was also known for its “aquatheater,” where seals, dolphins and bears performed.


The End: News reports at the time said many of the deer were euthanized.

Buffalo Ranch

Location: Newport Beach

Closed: 1959


Scene: Visitors to the 115-acre ranch got to drive around and see about 100 buffalo. A petting zoo had goat, peacocks, burros and other smaller animals. The ranch also served buffalo burgers.

The End: Many of the animals were sent to Kansas. The spot was where the Irvine master plan was conceived.

Busch Gardens

Location: Van Nuys

Closed: 1979

Scene: Birds and beer. The 17-acre spread included a monorail that snaked around the Anheuser-Busch beer plant. There were also lagoons and boat rides, which showed off more than 1,000 birds including flamingos, storks, toucans and herons. Amusement park rides were added.

The End: Closed so the brewery could expand.

Jack Dutton’s Jungle Garden


Location: Anaheim

Closed: 1974

Scene: Before Disneyland, Dutton’s Jungle Garden was king. “On weekends, thousands of visitors thronged the park,” The Times wrote. “Part zoo, part nightclub, the garden was the place to see and be seen.”

The End: Jack Dutton, a one-time Anaheim mayor and civic booster, closed the park. Dutton agonized about what to do with Jerry, the park’s longtime star billed as “The World’s Most Human Chimp.” Unable to find a zoo or suitable caretaker for Jerry, Dutton had a police officer friend shoot him. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Dutton told The Times in 1993. “I would never humanize a chimp again.”


For the Record

Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that Jack Dutton’s Jungle Garden closed in 1993.

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