Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Jungleland, part deux

If you ever passed through Thousand Oaks back in the 50's and 60's, there were so many sights to see. Sheep! Cows! And lots of rolling hills covered in (what else) oak trees. But there was Jungleland too! I posted a few photos before, take a look at those if you want.

Here's something you don't see every day! A heffalump standing on two legs. What's the big deal, I do that all the time. This picture really brings back those faint memories that I have when I visited Jungleland as a child. Here's a specific odd the rare and exotic animals entertained us in the caged arena, I found myself entranced by a squirrel running back and forth along a wire overhead. Kids!

This lucky lad is someone we've seen before at Knott's, Disneyland, and Santa's Village, although he is a bit younger here. I'm pretty sure that the big cats did their thing in this cage, and have no doubt that if you got nice and close, one of them could have reached through the bars and taken your head off. Now that's entertainment!

While you can't see much of Jungleland itself in these final photos, you can still sense the kind of place it was. Kids could burn off some energy playing on some of these simple rides under the shade of oak trees. Some of those trees are certainly still there, I drive by the former location of Jungleland fairly often, since my folks live in Thousand Oaks. Now it's a performing arts center with a neighboring shopping mall.

What is that critter in the cage, a hyena? Anyway, dad finally makes it into the picture...he must have been quite the amateur photographer, preferring larger-format slides. I feel a fondness for this family, having seen them in so many slides, looking for all the world like the ideal California family!

And finally, there doesn't seem to be much Jungleland stuff out there, but I do have this fun pennant, probably from the 50's.


mr wiggins said...

Thanks for the pictures, major! My family moved to still-rural Thousand Oaks in 1961 when I was a kid -- 65.3 agonizing miles from Disneyland but less than a half mile from Jungleland, where we could hear the lions roar at night. In all the years I lived there, I went to Jungleland just twice, in '61 and '62, IIRC. My reaction to it -- colored, no doubt, by being a total DL geek -- was that it was on the rundown side. The photo in the previous post that showed old electrical cables lying where guests walked? Like that. I remember feeling sorry for the monkeys, who seemed to be crowded in dark, smallish cages.

Jungleland opened in 1927 as "Louis Goebel's Lion Farm." Marc Davis and other Disney artists visited to sketch animals during the Snow White and Bambi years ( Its heyday was the 1950's. By the '60's it, like Corriganville, had become one of those C-Ticket-fillers that we Baby Boomer kids had to make do with between DL trips. One of Thousand Oaks' most famous citizens was big cat trainer Mabel Stark, whose fame faded along with Jungleland's.

The big excitement was in the mid-60's, when a panther escaped. The whole community was on alert. After a huge search, the cat was found hiding under a cage. I remember the community's outrage that it was killed instead of captured. The event lives on in the "Panthers," the mascot and team name for Newbury Park High School, the second high school to be built in the area.

It closed in 1969 and sat empty for years -- a true ghost park.

Major Pepperidge said...

Mr. Wiggins, thanks for your great recollections and info! I went to Thousand Oaks High School, but briefly went to Newbury Park HS (and Westlake HS too). My family moved to T.O. in 1976, and I remember looking down into the abandoned Jungleland every time we drove past on the 101. Now I regret not trying to explore the grounds, hoping to find a tiny piece to keep as a souvenir!

Jay Jennings said...

Hi Major...The Knott's Museum is never closed. It's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Except for an occasional addition, all 7 displays/blogs are done. I'm now adding my personal introductions to all 7 displays (already finished writing 2 of them).

I think I've spoiled you in that you want to see more and more items added. LOL. In the near future I might add some postcards from the 40's of old Knott's characters (Red Feather, Dude Sands, etc...)

But for the most part, the museum is complete. I've gotten some nice e-mails from quite a few ex-Knott's employees over the past month, which is nice.

Sorry for the off-topic response, but you don't have an e-mail address on your profile. Nonetheless, I find your blog most enjoyable.


mr wiggins said...

> I went to Thousand Oaks High School, but briefly went to Newbury Park HS (and Westlake HS too).<

- T.O. High, 1962-66 (first graduating class!)