Press Release

Animal Wellness Groups Commend Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for Ending Pony Rides Attraction

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Center for a Humane Economy, Animal Wellness Action, and Animal Wellness Foundation commended the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for voting to not renew its contract with the Griffiths Park Pony Rides, a controversial attraction that has been opposed by local advocates for the way its animals are treated.

The park, which includes both pony rides and a petting zoo featuring a small collection of farm animals, has been the subject of ongoing protests and appeals to city officials led by Los Angeles advocate Zohra Fahim and her group, Los Angeles Alliance for Animals, who voiced concern about the conditions for the ponies working at the park. Among the list of issues raised were the apparent health problems of some of the ponies, some of whom were elderly, the ponies being forced to work long hours in extreme heat, and failure to provide the animals with fresh water and shelter from the elements. The group has published videos and photos showing an elderly pony being forced to work despite showing obvious lameness or neurological impairment, children falling off and being dragged by the ponies, and a sheep in the petting zoo showing obvious distress in extreme heat.

“We are grateful that the City has taken the appropriate steps into closing Griffith Park Pony Rides down,” said Zohra Fahim, founder of Los Angeles Alliance for animals. “Animal abuse and animal cruelty doesn’t align with the values of Angelenos.”

“We extend our gratitude to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for its decision to not renew its contract with Griffith Park Pony Rides,” said Scott Beckstead, director of campaigns at the Center for a Humane Economy and Animal Wellness Action. “The ponies deserve better than being forced to work long hours carrying children around a track, often in extreme heat, and often deprived of access to shade, water, and food. The attraction also sent a problematic message to children, that animals should be forced to work, including in adverse conditions, for the sake of their amusement.”

Beckstead, and an equine welfare specialist, testified on multiple occasions at hearings held by city officials to determine the park’s future, including at a meeting of the Department of Recreation and Parks held on December 1.

Animal Wellness Action (Action) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

The Center for a Humane Economy (“the Center”) is a non-profit organization that focuses on influencing the conduct of corporations to forge a humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both.

The Animal Wellness Foundation (Foundation) is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper. We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.