Wild Card

The Old Zoo

Things did not look very promising.

“Umm… maybe it’s up that way?” I said, pointing towards the skinny dirt trail, slinking up the side of the hill. I started billy-goating my way upwards, hoping to scout out the landscape before I dragged Jaci and Nikki up the awkward incline. No sign of anything but dirt and brush.

“Shouldn’t we just ask somebody?” Nikki called from below. I frowned, checked my phone again and wondered if maybe it was time. Clearly my vague Yelp directions were getting us nowhere. Nikki and Jaci scrambled up next to me just as a runner came around the bend ahead.

“Excuse me!” I yelled, then realized she was wearing headphones. I waved and yelled again. She slowed to a stationary jog and looked up and down at our little wayward group: three girls in preppy clothes, bearing oversized cameras. “Sorry, could you help us? We’re looking for the old zoo.”

She smiled at us graciously before pointing off into the distance. “It’s that way. See that little trail running across the hill? It’s just around there. Maybe a quarter mile.”

I saw Jaci grimace out of the corner of my eye. The sun was setting fast and we needed the light.

“Great, thanks!” I said, and the jogger took off again. I turned to Jaci and her friend, “I think we can make it! Are you guys game?” They both shrugged. Jaci pulled out her phone and switch on the light sensor, a not-so-subtle hint to hurry. We started walking in the right direction (at last) and twenty minutes later found ourselves just where we had hoped: at the old Los Angeles Zoo.

The “new” zoo sits lower in Griffith Canyon, a few miles away. This older version was built back in the 1930s and was left to rust for the last twenty years. It is a fascinating display of urban decay. Cage doors swing open, gaping holes line the tall fences… “The Great Escape” of the zoo animals. While we lost the light almost immediately, we still had a great time exploring and taking whatever shots we could. Did I mention how much I love my new camera?



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