Monday, September 24, 2007

Jungleland, Thousand Oaks California

Today kicks off a week away from Disneyland. For those of you only interested in Disneyland...well, I guess you should come back and visit next Monday. We'll visit a few familiar places, as well as some previously unexplored locations. Like Jungleland!

In the early 1900's Thousand Oaks consisted of chicken ranches, dairy farms, and apricot orchards, as well as acres of rolling, oak-covered hills. In 1926, a man named Louis Goebel opened his Lion Farm, which became a well-known tourist attraction in 1929. I believe that Leo the Lion (MGM's roaring mascot) lived in splendor at Goebel's Lion Farm! Hundreds of movies were filmed in Thousand Oaks back in those days, as well.

Here's a great photo showing one of the many fierce lions in action. Nice kitty! Jungleland gained a dash of infamy when Jayne Mansfield's son Zandor was mauled by a "tame" lion in 1966. Though critically injured, he eventually made a full recovery.


I visited Jungleland as a child, and have a few vague memories of the place, such as the drinking fountains that looked like lions and hippos with open mouths. I also recall sitting in these very same bleachers. Mom appears to have purchased a stuffed vinyl monkey toy for her little boy!


"Tamba" was the stage name for a chimp named Peggy. She starred with Johnny Weismuller in a number of "Jungle Jim" adventures...in one review for an installment titled "Killer Ape", it was noted that "As usual, many of the film's best scenes go to Tamba the Chimp, who gets even more screen time than leading lady Carol Thurston"! Too bad we can't see this great star in this photo.


And lastly, here is an example of the kind of thrilling rides that you could experience at Jungleland! I have a vintage postcard showing a train ride (a rather large miniature railroad, akin to Disneyland's), and can find no other mention of it online. I guess there was some kind of small "sky ride" as well? Jungleland closed in 1969, supposedly it was the victim of too much competition from other tourist attractions.


My family moved back to California n 1976 (after a few years in Pennsylvania), and Thousand Oaks was where we made our new home. For many years you could look down from the 101 freeway and see the empty animal enclosures (not to mention a nearby camel farm!). Eventually the remains of Jungleland were torn down and replaced by the city's Civic Arts Plaza.

19 comments:

Matterhorn1959 said...

Nice images, I can't to see what else will be shown. That last image is a safety nightmare with the large electrical box cords just sitting out on the ground!

Anonymous said...

Nice images! Don't remember a 'sky ride' at Jungleland, but do recall riding the train and some small boats that were shaped like swans. Just don't rmember the place as being very exciting. Let's see more!

Merlinsguy said...

Jungleland fine, now Corriganville, super.

Stub Winged Bilge Rat said...

I have a slide of my older brother and sister driving a small "Model T" style car on a track like the Autopia. My parents have guessed that this was taken at Jungleland in about 1966. Does anyone know if they had such a ride there? Or if not was there another SoCal park that had such a ride?

Anonymous said...

Your 'Model T' ride photo sounds more like something from Knott's Berry Farm - they had two different rides like that. Also, Santa's Village had a model T ride, too.

olddisneylandfan said...

I think I remember a sky ride at Jungleland. I believe it was added in JL's last years when, as I recall, there was a big effort to freshen the ol' place up.

I remember riding an elephant there.

SundayNight said...

Whenever my family drove up past Thousand Oaks from the San Fernando Valley, my mom and dad would remind us kids to “look for the elephant” that occasionally would be up near the Jungleland sign which was visible next to the Ventura freeway. Thanks for helping to bring to mind a special memory.

Jim in Merced CA said...

My family moved to Thousand Oaks in 1969 [I was 7 years old] and I consider Thousand Oaks, CA to be my hometown. Watched the Dallas Cowboys training camp, hung out at The Oaks Mall, The Janss Mall, attended TOHS, and also Cal Lutheran University. Moved away in 1986.

But we only went to Jungleland once in 1969 before it closed. It was fairly homespun. As a kid, my brother and I were intrigued that many of the animals there were used in the movie 'Doctor Doolittle' - the 1968 musical starring Rex Harrison, Anthony Newley, and Samatha Eggar.

After it closed, Jungleland sat empty for years in a slow state of decay. The empty pools used for the seals and various aquatic animals became a haven for skateboarders.

It didn't become the Civic Arts Plaza until years later.

Michelle said...

Hi ... my memories of Jungleland weren't from when it was open as a park. After it was closed my father worked for a construction company that owned the property and used the front office (pictured in the last picture) as it's office. I remember exploring the park with my brother and sister when we were younger and playing in the empty pens and such.

Rick said...

Rick Said:
I spent many happy hours with my parents here as a small boy. It did my heart good to see these few photos. Would love to see more if they are available. Does anyone remember the drinking fountains? They were lions, and you had to stick your head in the lions mouth to get a drink of water.

Dennis Swanson said...

Thanks for sharing!

I remember hearing the lions roar waiting for their food at night in 1959. It made a young mans imagination go crazy alone in his room trying to go to sleep...

gfh said...

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Anonymous said...

Wow, Jungleland came up with a friend tailgating @ the UCLA game this weekend. I grew up in 1000 Oaks and we weren't far from Jungleland. We used to go often. The first years I remember, it was just anaimal stuff, they added the sky ride and train later. Jim from Merced, you were 2 years behind me it seems at TOHS.

P. said...

Having lived in Thousand Oaks since 50s Jungleland. After it's closing we would skateboard in the Hippo tanks and large cement pools left behind. This would be prior the skateboard park in Aguroa, i still say they were the first pools skated not the valley pools.Clay RollerDerby wheels!Also part of sign out front of Jungleland was at my friend Martins' house on Ventu Park Rd. back in the 70s.I believe that if you would crawl in the sewer under T.O. Blvd. you could come up behind the park and get in for free.

Raphael Raphael said...

Wow
Jungleland, how well do I remember it. I was born there in 1948 until I went to Nam in 69 by the time I got back home to the “Conejo” in 1972 everything had changed! It was starting to look like a concrete jungle. Look at it now!
Thank you kindly for my past memories!

Raphael
inthevalleyofrabbits@gmail.com

David Zaidman said...

Fourth grade field trip from Conejo Elementary to Jungle Land: One member of our class raced a chimpanzee on stage to see who could eat a banana faster. The chimpanzee calmly devoured the banana, the boy from my class calmly threw up on stage. What a great memory.

Major Pepperidge said...

David, thanks for your great story! There's nothing like seeing a kid throw up on stage.

I haven't revisited this post in some time and am amazed at the number of comments that it has received. Maybe it's time to post some more Jungleland photos! I have about 20 additional pix...

Jeffrey said...

Hi everyone, I'm in the process of writing a book called Tales From Jungleland™.. I'd LOVE to include your personal stories and photos - please come visit my Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/TalesFromJungleland. Hope to see you there! - Jeffrey (janimator@gmail.com)

Jeffrey said...

Sorry, wrong email in that last post - it's jpanimator@gmail.com. Thanks! - Jeffrey Pittle