Los Angeles Zoo and Botanic Gardens

Battle Brewing Over the Future Use of Undeveloped Land at the LA Zoo

So far the petition has more than 25,000 signatures.

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • There's a battle brewing over the future use of undeveloped land at the LA Zoo.
  • Griffith Park is one of the largest city parks with urban wilderness areas in the country.
  • The Zoo has a proposed 20-year redesign and redevelopment plan, which has yet to be finalized and is taking feedback from the public.

This Saturday Griffith Park will celebrate its 125th anniversary, but there's a battle brewing over the future use of undeveloped land at the LA Zoo.

It's considered the crown jewel of Los Angeles. Griffith Park is one of the largest city parks with urban wilderness areas in the country.

"Here we have this 4,511 acres smack dab in the middle of LA," said Clare Darden, a board member with the Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust. "How many other cities have that? We are so blessed."

The Griffith J. Griffith Charitable Trust donated the massive land parcel to the city of LA in 1896. Since then, it's become home to an iconic observatory, the Greek Theatre, 70 miles of hiking trails, and the LA Zoo.

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"The LA Zoo was built all at one time in 1966 and a lot of the 1966 exhibits still exist," said Denise Verret, the CEO and director of the Zoo.

The Zoo has a proposed 20-year redesign and redevelopment plan, which has yet to be finalized and is taking feedback from the public.

"The expansion is building more expansive space for animals, including increasing that acreage which this plan does by 270%," she said.

For some, the word expansion raises a red flag.

"What we do need is to preserve the nature we do have, especially in a city like LA where there's so much traffic," said Rodolfo Setien, who started a change.org petition opposing the Zoo's expansion. "We need green spaces to be protected."

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So far it has more than 25,000 signatures, but Verret wants those opposed to know this.

"This plan does not expand the Zoo beyond its 133-acre footprint," he said. "There is no expansion into Griffith Park beyond the area we've been operating under since 1966."

While the Zoo's footprint wouldn't change, some of the amenities would, including a proposed aerial tram, a hilltop visitor center overlooking a vineyard, new restaurants, classrooms and meeting space.

"I don't think LA needs another theme park type of place," Setien said.

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