A confrontation ensues on the final day of pony riding and petting at Griffith Park

GRIFFITH PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A confrontation broke out on the final day of operations at the legendary Pony Rides and Petting Zoo in Griffith Park.

It was animal rights activists versus those in favor of keeping the place open.

There was tugging at each other’s signs and park rangers showed up to keep things peaceful.

Pony riding, a Los Angeles tradition since 1948, is coming to an end. Some parents who came here as children for the first time brought their own children for a last ride on the ponies.

The waiting time was four hours on the last day.

“It’s a sad day. So I bring my kids with me for the last day so they have a chance to have that experience. Because that’s part of the charm of LA and part of the charm of Griffith Parks and it’s going to be lost,” said Sheida Ashley, who took her kids with her on the final day.

The permanent closure of the facility follows allegations of animal abuse at the facility.

Earlier this month, the City of Los Angeles announced that the attraction’s contract with the city expires Wednesday and will not be renewed.

Protesters have been on site mostly on weekends, accusing the facility of cruelty to animals after four ponies died. They’re asking for an investigation into the owner.

“We want to educate these people who are here that these types of rides don’t exist and should end,” protester Sandra Bell said.

In a statement a few weeks ago, Council Member Nithya Raman said: “Following multiple reports from an independent equine veterinarian, it became clear that the City of Los Angeles could not in good faith proceed with the renewal of this contract. Griffith Park is We need affordable amenities that allow families to connect with nature, but we need to look for alternative models that are safe and healthy for both children and animals.

The pony ride’s owner, Steve Weeks, said the animals were not mistreated and the vets decided to euthanize them due to health complications and old age.

“The only reports the city received of abuse came from the protesters themselves. The veterinary examination showed there was nothing unusual wrong with the ponies,” Weeks said.

A proponent named Ida, who campaigned to keep the site open, started a petition to get the city to change its mind and extend the lease.

“This ride is so important to the children of Los Angeles and the community. The pony rides are simply irreplaceable. It’s a historical landmark,” Ida said.

Weeks said they have 90 days to vacate the property. He has found forever homes for all animals, including some that go to sanctuaries. The site’s 17 employees will all remain unemployed.

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https://abc7.com/griffith-park-pony-rides-la-near-me/12600100/ A confrontation ensues on the final day of pony riding and petting at Griffith Park

Laura Coffey

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