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Griffith Park pony rides to cease operations, owner says

An iconic attraction at Griffith Park will be shuttering for good by the end of the year.

The Griffith Park Pony Rides, which have been in operation for more than 70 years, will be closing permanently on Dec. 21, owner Steve Weeks announced Sunday.

Weeks made the announcement on Facebook and said the decision was made by the City of Los Angeles to not renew the business’s contract.

“After 74 years serving the children and parents of Los Angeles, this iconic institution will be closed forever by order of the City. You have all followed our fight against these few radical animal rights activists. Despite our year long fight to answer the untrue statements of these individuals, our efforts were not heard,” Weeks wrote.

The pony rides have come under fire by animal rights activists in recent years, with some alleging that the ponies were overworked and treated poorly. The accusations have led to some protests, which Weeks had said left many customers unhappy and resulted in children being yelled at by demonstrators.

An organization called Los Angeles Alliance for Animals, which has been the most ardent critic of the establishment, lauded the decision and accused Weeks of animal cruelty.

Ultimately, Weeks said, the decision to stop the pony rides came from the Los Angeles Department Recreation and Parks.

In the coming days, Weeks said he will be working to find “forever homes” for the ponies, which he said would be given to “qualified horsepeople who care as much about our ponies as I do.”

Recreation and Parks released a statement Sunday that reads:

“The Griffith Park Pony Ride concession contract will expire on December 21, 2022. After careful consideration, the Department of Recreation and Parks has decided not to extend the contract.  Pony rides will therefore be closed to the public beginning December 22, 2022.  At the request of the City Council, the Department will undertake a community input process to re-imagine the recreational and educational activities offered at this location in Griffith Park to continue providing youth and families an affordable and enjoyable experience.”

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