Civic Arts Plaza
2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, California 91362
One day I visited the Stagecoach Inn in Newbury Park. The Inn is suspected of being haunted by as many as three different spirits. As I took the guided tour, I arrived in the kitchen and upon peering out the back window saw a large sign hanging on the back of the house at approximately basement level. It said "Wild Animals" with the words "Importer Exporter" above. Curious why such a strange sign was hanging on the back of the historic building, I of course asked our guide. She told me about a piece of history for the area. She told me about Jungleland.
Jungleland was basically the zoo for Hollywood. It housed many of the animals used in movies between the 1930s and 1960s. As you drove up the coast, past the town of Thousand Oaks, you could literally see elephants and occasionally other animals chained to the side of the road advertising the zoo.
Today the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza resides at the former site of Jungleland. But long ago in 1926, Goebel's Lion Farm opened its doors at the location. Eventually residing on 170 acres, Goebel's Lion Farm was started by Louis Goebel, a former employee at Gay's Lion Farm who left the lion zoo when it moved to El Monte. Goebel began working at Gay's Lion Farm in 1919 and started off as a butcher of animals for the lions' food before moving up to feeder and grounds keeper. After Gay's Lion Farm moved, Geobel began working directly for Universal Studios caring for their animals and lions. Carl Laemmele closed down Universal Studios' animal division in 1926. It housed lions used in a variety of motion pictures. When the division was closed by the studio, Goebel purchased six of the lions, acquired land in Thousand Oaks and opened up Goebel's Lion Farm. In 1927 it was formerly opened to the public.
In the late forties and mid fifties it exchanged hands several times, becoming World Jungle Compound and under 20th Century Fox, Jungleland. Goebel recovered ownership of it through foreclosure, but entered into an agreement with outside partners to operate it. By the sixties, Jungleland rapidly increased in popularity and had by now acquired a variety of different animals. The movie industry had also discovered Jungleland and several animal actors were housed at the zoo. Leo, the MGM Lion; Jackie, another MGM Lion; Mr. Ed, the talking horse; Bimbo, the elephant from Circus Boy, and Getta, the chimpanzee from the Tarzan films all resided at Jungleland. In addition to supplying these as well as elephants, horses, zebras, and even water buffalo to a variety of different movies, Jungleland also served as the back drop to several movies itself. Scenes from "Birth of a Nation", "Tarzan", and "The Adventures of Robin Hood" were all filmed there.
Additionally, Goebel also leased animals to circus acts, provided an animal exportation and importation service, assisted in supplying animals to other zoos including furnishing many of the animals for the first zoo in Hawaii and even supplied most of the rhesus monkeys that were used in vaccine research for polio.
Famed lion tamer, Mabel Stark came to Thousand Oaks in 1938 and began hosting performances at Jungleland. Mabel Stark was probably the world's first woman tiger and lion trainer. Despite being mauled several times by her large cats (tigers, lions, panthers and others), Mabel Stark performed for nearly sixty years at both circuses and parks. At one time she faced up to 18 big cats in the ring. She passed away in 1968 at the age of 78.
Sadly by the mid sixties, Jungleland and Louis Goebel could not compete with the mega amusement parks that were appearing all over southern California. Ranging from Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Universal Studios, business at Jungleland, and Jungleland itself, began to decline until finally it was forced to close its doors in October of 1969. Any of the animals that Goebel did not keep were auctioned off that month to the public. A hippo sold for $450, a llama $195, a macaw $1800, a tortoise $2500, a tiger $750, a lion $600, and an orangutan for over $10,000.
As an aside note, in its last years, Jungleland played host to a birthday party for Jayne Mansfield's six year old son, Zoltan. Zoltan was attacked and mauled by one of the lions that day which of course caused business to slow down afterwards. However, although several people claim this was the straw that broke Jungleland's back, in reality, Jungleland was already struggling financially to stay open as it competed against the much larger and newer amusement parks in Southern California. Zoltan did in fact survive the attack, a survival which was later credited by Mansfield to a ritual performed by Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan.
Jungleland also left its mark when a black panther escaped in the 1960's. Although neither the panther nor its remains are rumored to have ever been found, the local high school is supposed to have taken its mascot's name from it: The Newbury Park High School "Panthers". Several commentors below have added information to this urban legend. According to several people below, the incident happened in 1963, the panther escaped from its enclosure, but never made it out of the park. It was found within a day or two and sadly shot and killed.
During the seventies and eighties, the now vacant Jungleland was used mostly as an informal skate and hangout spot by the locals. Despite "No Trespassing" signs being clearly posted, the former animal pools were cleaned out and used as skate board pits, outdoor informal concerts called "Jungleland Jamborees" were occasionally organized on the abandoned land, and the entire area became referred to as the "Jungleland Wasteland" by the diverse crowd that hung out on the old zoo grounds.
It could be said that Jungleland helped create Thousand Oaks into the town it is today. Visitors flocked to the zoo from all over, many discovering the area for the first time, and several later deciding to settle down there. Thousand Oaks eventually demolished the old zoo, and in 1994 opened the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. The entire structure is 210,000 square feet not including the garages. It cost the city $63.8 million to build. Additionally it has a $150,000 art sculpture of a copper curtain. Yes 50 feet by 60 feet and made of 2000 strips, the curtain was originally meant to be a fluttering, waving curtain, but the city tied the bottom of the strips down fearing they would be hazardous to nearby motorists on highway 101 if they broke off and blew away on days with high wind. The art project was created by Antoine Predock and it is rumored that the city is considering changing the art sculpture due to public criticism.
Lastly it's also rumored that the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza still has the body of one of the Leo MGM lions buried on its land. Another lion is buried not far down the highway in Calabasas at the LA Pet Cemetery.
- Jim Galati of Mayer, Arizona on 2013-05-19 said:
- Heidi Feten, Hi, Wow you have a great memory,I can't believe that your mom is still living on Calle Morea that is like totally awesome.I was jamming with Henry Torres back then. Those were really great times.
The Poet Wm Blake believed that we should cast off the rotten rags of memory and use our Imaginations to create a better tomorrow. The problem with that is that we are all living in the now and the now is very unsatisfactory. The past was better than the now. Jungleland is now a concrete Jungle.
I miss the old Thousand Oaks,Ernie Ball Guitars on to Blvd, The teen Canteen, The Conejo Lodge,The Oakdale market, The E&K Market,all the Oaks trees on TO. Blvd that you used to have to go around.
The Janss Corporation ruined Thousand Oaks. I'm still playing some blues Heidi, I've become a soloist.
My Mom & Dad are both handicapped now and I've talked them into selling their home and moving in with me so that I can take care of them. I own a beautiful home up in Mayer Az, very rural just like thousand oaks was, I have drive 30 minutes just to get to a store. But we don't have a jungleland.
Hey if you'd like shoot me an e-mail and we can reminisce on old Thousand oaks. firstname.lastname@example.org
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2013-05-06 said:
- This is in response to Odorfer's response to my response...As far as I remember, the only business next to Thriftymart was the Melody theater. Was this sandwich shop around the corner? My sister Pat remembers girls bugging Kurt for being a former child star. If they had only known what laid ahead for him...
To Randy Mainer: Did you know Mr. Beyer on Beyer Lane? His grandson, Doug Aronson was a friend/co-worker of mine. How about Tom Ewing? He lived on Beyer for a while in the latter '70's. Had a rotary engine 6 wheel ATV in the garage under construction.
Anyone who wants to talk T.O. from olden times (I moved there in '57) I'm at: email@example.com
- Heidi Feten on 2013-04-20 said:
- Jim Galati: My family lived across the street from your (2) families on Calle Morera. My mom still lives in the same house. I remember sitting on the curb across the street from your house with the other neighborhood kids when you and your "band" practiced in your garage. Reading all this brings back so many memories ... Jungleland was very special.
- Odorfer of Siloam Springs, Arkansas on 2013-04-17 said:
- This is in response to David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon. My 2 older brothers went to school with Kurt Russell. The oldest remembered how he use to get teased for being a Disney kid. He never ate lunch at school, he would go to the little sandwich shop next to the Melodey theater and eat lunch there, with my Mom (Fran Odorfer) whom at the time worked at the Thriftymart as a checker. I think everyone remembers her as the cop of Thriftymart. She use to pick out the shoplifters and grab them as they walked out the door. Kurt Russell even mentioned my mom when he had done an interview with Arseno Hall. I use to love to hear the stories they told of him as a kid. I was born at the T.O community Hospital in '67 so never got to go to JungleLand but was told awesome stories. Went to the ruins once and got busted and sent home by the Sheriff. I miss T.O.
- Randy Mainer of thousand oaks, cal on 2013-04-15 said:
- Wow chucko the clown ..have not heard that name in a long time..i lived on beyer lane.chucko lived on hillcrest about a block away..what a place to be a kid..it was truly a dream town for usand man.. ranches .movies being flimed all the time .elvis in roustabout. Dick clarks were the action is dance show at jungle land ..i saw jane mansfield son mauled by a lion i was 20 ft away..one hell of a day at 12 years old..am now 60..but still here in good o t.o.
- Chris of Grand Junction, CO on 2013-03-18 said:
- I lived a short distance from Jungleland, in old town Thousand Oaks back when the Streetnoise band was in business. Thought you all might enjoy one of their songs and a couple of pictures from one of their concerts there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRYdAcPxDYM
- Anonymous of CALIF on 2013-03-10 said:
- I WAS ABOUT 5-6 YEARS OLD WHEN MY GRANDPARENTS HARRY & KATIE HARTUNG HAD THE RESTERAUNT AT THE FRONT OF THE LION FARM.
I RECALL THERE WERE LIVE ANIMAL SHOWS THERE ON THE WEEKENDS.
I BELEIVE A MAN NAMED LOUIS ROTH WAS THE ANIMAL TRAINOR AND HIS DAUGHTER PERFORMED WITH THE TIGERS.
I RECALL GRANDMA WAS SHOCKED TO SEE MAE WEST BEING SO SHORT WHEN PORTRAYED IN THE FILMS AS QUITE TALL.
I LOVED FEEDING THE BABY LIONS.
I HAVE SOME PICTURES,ONE OF CLARK GABLE WHO WAS VISITING,
VERY FOND MEMORIES OF BYGONE DAYS.
- Jim Galati of Goodyear, AZ on 2013-02-15 said:
- Thousand Oaks, Holy Horslips, in 1962 Thousand oaks wasn't even on the map.Having moved up from North Hollywood people down there used to say what's a Thousand Oaks?
JungleLand you say...Not many people know that an episode of The Fugitive 4/28/1965 "Last second of a big Dream". was filmed at Jungle land.
Hey,remember North of Wild Wood they had sets out there and they were filming "The Rifleman" Four Star productions.
The Conejo Valley, yeah it was great place when it was just a Town. Now it's just a Sea of Cement.
Are people still living there? My condolences.
"IAM that IAM".
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2013-02-13 said:
- Anybody remember the Flying 'A' gas station at Moorpark and Janss Rd? I remember watching the flashing "Flying A" sign from my bedroom window at night. I lived at Montgomery Rd. and Briar Cliff.
A fond memory was my brother George and I got his 1951 Ford buisness coupen stuck on the mound of dirt next to the Kevington sign. This had to have been 1967 at the latest. George had no license yet but somehow had a car. Dad was due home in about a 1/2 hour and I begged the Flying 'A' guy to come over w/the tow truck to pull us out but he was there alone and couldn't.
Well, Dad came home, looked in the back yard and saw the car missing, saw us stuck and ran across the field looking like the Road Runner cartoon...big dust trail behind him. We beat feet after eluding him...somehow. It was all a blur. He got the car unstuck by using the park brake for a positraction help. Man, we thought we were doomed!
Fond memory of almost dying!
- Bob Peck of Mesa, AZ on 2013-02-07 said:
- this is response to a comment from: Susan Kelly Apodaca of Castle Rock, CO on 2012-04-04. My father knew Mel Kontz, he also doubled for Tarzan in I believe (6) movies.He went by the name of Bobby Roth when he did the films.
- steven janssen of 1000 oaks, ca on 2013-02-04 said:
- this is in responce to bruce hamilton! hey bruce if you scroll down to one of my older comments you will find one that i wrote about an old lion cage from jungleland that is still in the backyard of the house i grew up in on calle verbena! let me talk to my other family members and see if they are willing to part with it! i dont know how much room you have for your exhibit but this cage is about 8 feet by 6 feet by about 6 feet tall and built extremely sturdy! wood and metal,i would say its from the 1940s or 1950s its been in the family since jungleland started closing down! my dad and i drug it home on the skids that its built on behind his old ford bronco! all i remember is that my dad was always up to something like that so it ended up in our back yard as a club house at first then kinda turned into a storage shed over the years as us kids grew up!
- Bruce Hamilton of Westlake Village, CA on 2013-01-26 said:
- I am the "curator" of the growing exhibit of Jungleland at the Stagecoach Inn. PLEASE..if you have any artifacts, photos or anything else that you might loan to give to our museum we would be forever grateful as would all the people who visit us. Folks like Roger Smith who was one of the lion tamers with Mabel Stark is helping, won't you? I can be contacted at the museum here in Thousand Oaks or through my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. THANK YOU
- Anonymous of Nevada on 2012-12-12 said:
- I was born and raised in El Conejo,”Thousand Oaks” It was a beautiful place with many, many really beautiful people. It’s sad that jungle land has vanished from view, but not from the hearts of those that shared its history and experiences.
Yes, I remember Lou Long; I was just thinking about him; I use to visit him at his trailer house. Good old Lorenzo a beautiful spirit he was my friend as he was too many others. Lupe’s Café I remember the family; I remember Essie’s Café her husband Abraham. Everyone knew Mabel Stark. Wow the Rocket gas station yes. The Meadowbrook Plunge thank you for the fun times, E&K and Oakdale knew the families. I remember Pete that lived inside of the Oakdale. Nixon’s, Greyhound stop, The Acorn Theater, A café on TOB I cannot remember its name, but it had its inside walls plastered with pictures, of VIP, Movie Stars, and many others. The Mad Attic, Masses, Robb’s, Violet I remember your brother Johnny sorry to hear about him passing, hope the rest of your family are well.
I know some of the people that have post here; well, there is so much about the Conejo and so many, many memories and experiences. God bless you all.
- jan cooper of Anaheim, CA on 2012-11-25 said:
- I have just read the comments and what memories come flooding back. I too worked at Jungle land on 2 different occasions. I was also theatre the day that Zoltan was attacked by Sam the lion. The nanny became too involved watching what was going one with the publicity and ms Mansfield that the little boy wandered within reach of the big cat. Tim was the one that dislocated his shoulder and I drove him to the hospital and later accompanied him when he walked the cats that were chained in the area back to the barn.
Sam was a very docile cat..he once got loose at the main barn at night and several of us used portable arena panels and cars to corner him. Tim (have forgotten his last name), walked along side of Sam and used his belt over Sam's neck to finally lead him back to his cage. Tim was the large cat handler that did studio work at that time. I also had a sea lion act at the time that performed in the same arena as Mable Stark...I was so in awe of her and terrified of her too. I remember one day she actually acknowledged me when we passed and I said good morning to her...it was the most exciting thing for me. I use to care for the Celebes Jacques on money island..they were the sweetest monkeys..not aggressive in nature at all, compared to other species.
My fondest memories are of the gibbons whoops that would echo in the early, foggy mornings and the woofs of the lions. I have spent my life working around, for/with animals... I was in charge for the care of the red foxes and hedge hogs used on Dr Dolittle for a time .
Such memories...thanks for sharing all the wonderful stories.
- Dona of Mountlake terrace, WA on 2012-11-06 said:
- Post by Dave Fruhling is correct! We were living in T.O. at that time also...it was exciting as little kid thinking a panther was on the loose!
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2012-10-19 said:
- Mr. Ananymous [sic] please go back and read previous posts. The "Panther" never left the Jungleland compound.
What you (probably) saw was a black kitty.
The "Black Panther" never made it past the Jungleland compound.
It was found and unfortunately killed.
You probably saw your neighbors cat.
Please read all "Jungleland" posts.
- Anonymous of Newbury Park , CA on 2012-09-24 said:
- My family moved to Newbury Park in 1961. When I was about 12 I was walking my dog very early one morning headed up towards the 101 from Jenny Drive. It was a foggy morning and as I was walking down the trail my dog suddenly stopped. When I looked up the road I saw the black Panther coming towards us. It stopped and we looked at each other for several seconds then we both turned around and went in opposite directions. I could not help myself and turned back around to try and follow it. Never did see it again but later came across the remains of both a deer and a sheep while hiking in the same general area.
- Cheryl Baehr of Ca on 2012-08-21 said:
- I was talking to someone recently and recalled my visit to "jungle Land". My grandfather is the late "Chucko the Clown"and growing up I remember hearing a lot about Roy Kabot who I am sure I met as a kid and of course my uncle performing on his unicycle at jungle land . It was fun to come across this sight and read about my own relatives and people who I think were close to my late grandparents-I too have some fun memories and I am not afraid of clowns!
- Steve Fleet of Longview, Texas on 2012-08-21 said:
- I have very fond memories of Jungleland. My father and my uncle Albert went to work there with their Chimps after the Clyde Beatty circus disbanded. I spent every weekend of my first 8 yrs. there. I rermember Arkie with the elephants, Mable and her tigers and Little Dick McGraw and his lions. Great memories and great friends...
- Terry Beall of San Antonio, Texas on 2012-08-06 said:
- I worked at Jungleland for about 2 years (66-68). It was the most fun a teenager could have at a job. I had the opportunity to work with my sweet Bimbo the elephant. I have always been curious what happened to her. She was from the Circus Boy TB show of the 50's and provided rides (35 cents for kids, 50 for adults). The elephand handlers were a guy named George something and Arky Scott, an old circus guy.
I remember watching Mabel Stark and wondering when one of those tigers would make a meal of her but it never happened. What fun, wonderful memories! Was there the day Zoltan got snatched by the lion. It was a lack of supervision of the kid, not a bad lion.
- Terry Beall of San Antonio, Texas on 2012-08-06 said:
- I'm having a great time reading these memories. To Violet Hold, I worked with your brother John almost every day during the summers of 66, 67 & 68. I remember him fondly. We worked for Rene Betin, a little German dude who did maintenance. I remember when we were cleaning the moat around "Monkey Island" and John left a ladder across from the wall, over the moat to the island. The monkeys (Celebese Apes, actually) were supposed to be locked up in their house and John went to get some tools or something and every one of them went across the ladder and escaped. We laughed ourselves silly over that. They were all eventually recovered. I obviously remember John fondly and may he rest in peace.
- Terry Beall of San Antonio , Texas on 2012-08-06 said:
- To A Coberly of TO - I am sure we crossed paths somewhere along the line at Jungleland. Your comments are the most accurate about the park that I have read. I never saw cruelty or abuse of any kind. When the park was closed we used to get in cages and pens of many of the less dangerous animals and play with them! Including orangutans (Susie and Icabod) gibbons and others. Although if you have read my first post, I adored Bimbo and she gave me a fascination for elephants to this day. Such a big princess! The kid you mention who was taken in by Tex Scarborough may have been Arky Scott's son. Arky was an elephant guy from the old circus days and was very sick from cancer, I believe. I remember the son, just not his name. Tex had a rough run in with a tiger one day, too.
- Randy Mainer of thousand oaks, cal on 2012-08-01 said:
- I was there and saw the lion attack him.the lion was on a chain staked down the kid walked to close to the lion and the lion jump him and had his head in his mouth.witch totally freak me out.the trainer grab the lion in a head lock and pulled the lion jaws apart to release him out of the lions mouth.as a kid in those days what better place to hang out at. And i lived two blocks from jungle land.that day they were filming were the action is a dick clark dance show.sonny and shair and paul revier and the raders were there too....wow what a day
- Rich Allen of Alamogordo, New Mexico on 2012-07-22 said:
- I was born and raised east of Camarillo in Santa Rosa Valley and lived in Ventura County from 1950 to 2008. When I was living in Santa Rosa Valley back in the 1950s, for a short time in 1956 or 1957 our next door neighbor was one of the lion tamers at Jungleland. Her name was May and her husband's name was Paul, but I don't remember their last name. May's mother had also been a lion tamer, and was killed by a lion or tiger, but I don't know when or where. I remember May drove an olive green 1948 Plymouth sedan. Her husband Paul worked at the Navy base at Point Mugu, as did my father and another neighbor. I attended Pleasant Valley School in Camarillo and in 1956 or 1957 my first grade class took a field trip to Jungleland to see all the animals. I remember when Jungleland was in the process of going out of business in the summer of 1968, one of my buddies and I (one the guys who lived up at the top of the Mugu sand dune by Mugu Rock back in the summer of 1966) took a large chuckwalla lizard we rescued over to Jungleland to see if they could find a home for it.
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2012-07-17 said:
- This is in response to Michelle Millers comment about Kurt Russell. He lived on Gainsborough Rd. at Moorpark Road. I remember seeing him in his batting cage with his automatic baseball pitcher. I was too shy to talk to him. One Halloween we heard he was giving out the candy at his door. We were a bit too old to be Trick or Treating but we couldn't resist. Without costumes we knocked. He was hidden under a table and his hand came out of a lidded box with a hinged door on top. He was "Thing" from the Addams Family show which was very popular at the time. His hand would come out, grab some candy from a bowl and drop it in your bag. He was/is too cool. He graduated Thousand Oaks High School when I was in 8th grade (at Waverly) so I never had a chance to see him at school.
There is a site I think is called, "Thousand Oaks Thru the Lens" (or Conejo Valley...the lens)that has lots of Jungleland pictures and hundreds of other old Conejo Valley pictures. Well worth researching and looking at the pics. They welcome you printing and/or using them but would like mention of where you got them. Have fun!
- Pat Heller of Stevensville, MT on 2012-07-13 said:
- I lived in TO from approx. 1950-1962, and vividly remember Jungleland. My favorite animal was that black panther, so it's sad to finally find out what happened to him. Although I visited Jungleland several times, as a pre-teen, I had no idea of it's history and connection with the movies.
- Michelle Miller (Henson) of La Quinta, California on 2012-07-08 said:
- OMG Jungleland was a treat. I grew up in Northridge then to Thousand Oaks in the 60's. Dad's business (Miller Bros. Electic) red truck with kite on the door's-moved to Newbury Park, CA. Went to JLand in the 50, 60's until it closed and adored Mabel the Lion Trainer. I wanted to be a trainer until I meant her and she had almost every bone in her body broken in the past-so changed my mine. Donna Fargo (I don't think she ever came out) from Conejo Valley Days use to work with my dad Doug Miller to build the CVD with the parade. Al Galati was the Sheriff that use to help the community. Gosh, Dupars, Orlando's became Gepetito's (Paul Burns owner), Kurt Russell lived on Janss road and now lives here in Palm Desert , CA at Bighorn. I read a note from Nancy Schowengerdt-if you read this Nancy is your sister or sister-in-law Pam Schowengerdt that married Jim??? If so I have been trying to find her for years.. Also, Corganville in San Fernando Valley-use to ride horses there (thank god I did not get involved with Manson-YIKES).
- Richard Senate of Ventura, California on 2012-06-16 said:
- My dad worked at Jungleland as a painter, Leonard Senate,and I helped him a great deal. I also worked their briefly. It was a fantastic place--part zoo, part circus and part studio. I have some snap shots of the place.
- Nancy D of Phoenix, Arizona on 2012-06-16 said:
- I remember Jungleland, it was my first job!
It was my first job and I worked there 1968-1969 in the snack bars throughout the park on the weekends during the open season. I remember opening and closing with the other girls from Park Oaks, my old elementary school. It was hot, hard work for a high school kid and it took me years and years before I could eat another hot dog, pop corn, or cotton candy!
I did see movie stars also. One cold day there were two weird guys walking around, the park was essentially empty but we could spot these two out since one had weird unusual hair. They were not from “California” and it scared some of the girls (Debbie, Carolyn, or Susan?) in the snack bar, so I was elected to wait on them. We had watched and talked about these two men all morning. Can’t remember exactly what I sold them (but they were very nice), coffee maybe since it was a little cool and not much activity that day. Later, learned it was Simon and Garfunkel, the famous singing stars.
I also remember being chased by a Brahma Bull inside the park ridden by a guy who wanted to date me. That was no way to impress me, later learned he had been killed. There was so much stuff happening that going to work was a true “adventure” and it was never dull. WE had to wear our little candy stripped aprons as our uniforms, experience the horrid smells of the goats and other animals, and get up close. Seemed like real circus life with all the animals and people.
I first moved to Thousand Oaks in the fall of 1959 and we had no school. So my first memory of Park Oaks Elementary was going to school in empty houses that the developer had provided us. Lucky for us we had a cul-de-sac to play in.
Yes I also remember the Black Panther episode and walked home with my friends. I thought they had captured it still in the park, which was the last thing I had learned. Don’t tell me he really escaped!
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2012-06-05 said:
- Hello, Kim Westlund. You may not remember me. Contact me at email@example.com and I'll fill you in. Anybody looking for T.O.H.S. Yearbook pictures I have the 1971 and 1973 Lancer Legend yearbooks. Also the 1969 Waverly Warrior yearbook. Anyone is free to contact me for pictures. I also have 2 vintage pictures of the field at Moorpark and Janss Rd. Feel free to chat. I am not too busy. Just 2.5 months behind at work.
- Nana on 2012-05-29 said:
- When my Grandchildren visit, often they ask to hear stories of Jungleland. Nana tell us about Leo, or riding the elephant and the giant turtles. If I could have a wish granted it would be to take them to the JL I remember. I guess if you look at something close enough you can find something bad in everything. But for us that loved that place it still holds a very dear place in our heart. I just found this site thanks for the positive remarks.
- Jerry of Bajek, CA on 2012-05-28 said:
- I lived in T.O. in the 60's. The day I had my tonsils out (I was six), Zoltan was mauled and I was in the bed next to him when we were in the hospital. I remember seeing Grandpa and Herman Munster when they came to visit him. I don't really remember seeing anyone else. Just a cool memory from my past.
- Kristina McGraw of New York, New York on 2012-05-22 said:
- Hello! I am posting this comment for my grandfather, Dick McGraw, married to Shirley.
They are both living in South Carolina with my mom at the current time. If anyone has any stories they could share about my grandfather (Lion trainer) or grandmother, I would love to hear them!
- Craig Moore of Los Angeles, CA on 2012-05-20 said:
- Thanks to all of you for your many stories of Jungleland. I had a wonderful time reading them. Mine isn't long, but it's value may be in that it's not like any other and adds another wrinkle to the legend of the place.
I grew up in Canoga Park (about 30 mins from Thousand Oaks, in those days) from around 1957 to '69 and recall a few trips to Jungleland. I was very young then and unfortunately, don't have many clear memories and suspect some of them might be mixed up with memories of trips to the old L.A. Zoo and other hot, dusty So Cal tourist attractions, that I loved as a kid. I do remember looking for and spotting the buildings and signage as we approached on the 101, in our old beige Studebaker Lark station wagon.
My clearest memory is of my mom pointing out the back half of a horse, just outside the park's fence, not far from the freeway. She suggested that it was probably food for the lions and other Jungleland carnivores. I barely saw is as we sped toward the freeway off-ramp and the park's entrance. I remember it was brown and was surprised to see no blood, as it laid in the dry, golden grass.
I guess my story sounds improbable now, that they'd leave it out where the public could see it, but people weren't nearly as cut off from many of the harsher realities of life back then - especially in regard to the treatment of animals. That's not a criticism, just a comment.
My comment is, that while some aspects of the past are sadly gone, we're better of without some others - and each of us gets to choose which is which.
- Kevin Withers of Ventura, CA on 2012-05-17 said:
- Here's a 1.5 minute color home movie of Jungleland. Footage includes a boy vs. chimpanzee banana eating contest, an elephant ride, and Mabel Stark working with tigers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmO2b0qezxc
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2012-05-02 said:
- Has anyone in T.O. ever considered seeing about some kind of hisorical marker for Jungleland? It has a lot more history than most people know. A lot, if not most of animals that appeared in movies were from Jungleland. At least one of the MGM lions is from Jungleland. Leo at least. I heard he was brought from Africa as a cub.
We are lucky we (at least) have this site to keep it's memory alive. And Steve Janssen, contact me. I got the 1969 Waverly Warrior year book and a great shot of you. I would like to send photos. I found Cory's email and have been talking. firstname.lastname@example.org
Anybody else from T.O. is welcome, too.
- Rosemary Jones Anderson of Atascadero, CA on 2012-05-02 said:
- Being raised in Carpinteria, it was a real treat to get to go to Jungle Land in the late 50's and 60's. I remember big top type show with lion, tiger and monkeys. The elephants were also saddled and multiple kids would be on either side and take a tour around the park facilities. It was a wonderful place, the animals were well cared for and cages were clean. It was a shame about Ms. Mansfield's son was mauled. I guess he was "out of sight" and managed to access an area he shouldn't have. After that, the facilities were closed. Sadly, another situation where people didn't want to take responsibility for watching their own children and allow them to go places they had no business unattended. It was a wonderful place to spend time seeing the shows and the animals.
- steven janssen of 1000 oaks always new orleans for now!on 2012-04-17 said:
- still here david, i check back in now and then just to see who has posted! i found some very interesting photos of t.o. back in the early days. just google "conejo through the lens"you should find the facebook for it then by scrolling down and clicking on a certain few pictures it should take you to flicker where there are tons of good images of the good old days!it will keep you busy for hours and bring back some good memories!
- steve janssen of 1000 oakson 2012-04-17 said:
- i see that jim kemmerling posted.hey mr kemmerling remember me? i remember you for sure! i also remember that paddle in your office with the holes drilled in it for less air resistance! i also remember my ass burning for hours afterwards sitting on those hard wooden desk chairs! its all good though, however i don't think they allow principals to use that kind of discipline anymore! park oaks school was a great school back then..
- Lucinda (Cook) Barnett of Fresno, CA on 2012-04-10 said:
- I grew up in Camarillo. I lived in the area from 58-83. I remember the old Wizens with the "hungry" sign. But my main memory of Jungleland was my birthday party there. It was hosted by Chucko the Clown. I still have my Chucko doll in storage...
- Susan Kelly Apodaca of Castle Rock, CO on 2012-04-04 said:
- The lion trainer, Mel Koontz, was a distant relative of mine. My great aunt, Lucille Koontz, was married to his brother, Clarence. I believe Clarence was a stand in for Tarzan and was killed by a black panther at the age of 28. That had to be back in the thirties possibly. We have a picture of my sister, Pat, sitting on Jackie, the lion and Melvin having Jackie "yawn" and my mom backed away. I loved reading all these comments about JL.
- Paul Anderson of Laguna Niguel, California on 2012-03-31 said:
- My family moved to Thousand Oaks from Ventura in March of '69 and I went at least once to Jungleland. I recall it was quite run down but always excitedly told friends and family from elsewhere that we had our own zoo in T. O. Friends always would tell the story of the "escaped Black Panther" when camping in the hills as boys. It was sure to make at least one of us sleep with "one eye open" that night.
- Tom Schembri of Springfield, Missouri on 2012-03-23 said:
- I'm glad to have stumbled onto this site. It brings back so many memories of growing up in Thousand Oaks. And I knew so many of you in grade school. We moved to T.O in 1960 were I attended school at Waverly. Then Glenwood was built and we were transfered. I remember the sound of the animals at night but mostly I remember a fence in the back of Jungle Land were me and friends would crawl under and get in for free. I can still remember Mabel Stark. She was a tiny lady that dressed like a cowgirl
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2012-03-20 said:
- Hi, Kim Westlund. I remember you. My friend Rusty dated your little sister. I remember seeing you hanging at McDonalds at Park Oaks Shopping Center when I worked there in the early '70's. As far as animal cruelty at Jungleland, I think if there was, it was minimal. I think Mr. Goebbel cared a lot more for the animals than most. Unlike traveling circuses, these Jungleland animals had it made for the most part. Plenty of room. I read one post of someone seeing an elephant secured with limited to no freedom. Probably was temporary. We didn't have much in the way of animal rights activists back then. Hope all is well with all you Jungleland fans. Hi, Steve Janssen. Still out there?
- Robert of Thousand Oaks, California on 2012-03-09 said:
- I never visited Jungleland. It closed when I was an infant. From what I can tell it seemed like a wonderful, cruel, freakish place.
Ok, maybe somebody can confirm or deny. I attended a Christmas 2011 and got to talking with an elderly gentleman who claimed that an elephant from JL was hit by a bus on the 101 in the late 60's. I thought total BS but his delivery was so serious I just had to investigate. So far? Nothing, zilch. If anyone could confirm, please do. The very idea of an elephant wandering out on the to be hit by a bus is just too much.
- Kim Westlund of Post Falls, Idaho on 2012-03-09 said:
- The eating establishment you called "Hungry?" was a restaurant called Whizins in Agoura. I remember the "Hungry?" sign very well. I remember when Agoura was just a bunch of small farms.
- Bill of Chaffin, Daytona Beach, Florida on 2012-02-12 said:
- I produced the "Jungleland Jamboree" concerts on the property in Thousand Oaks in 1979 and 1980. I rented the property from Louis Goebel for $200. a day, sponsoring country/western and rock shows on Sundays, weather permitting. My dream was to build a permanent showcase venue there, whilst preserving the beautiful natural and historical elements of the park. I charged the public four dollars each to see local acts such as Streetnoise and Easy Money, and nationally known acts such as Canned Heat and Dicky Sony's Navasota. Sometimes, comedians performed between acts, of which there were usually four in an afternoon. Beverages and Mexican food were available.
The outdoor shows were very well received and the mostly young crowd had a very good time.
A nationally-known biker gang showed up to settle a score with a Texas band leader one day, with most of them being arrested after a confrontation with our security. Except for that one day, we ran the shows with no arrests, no injuries, and not even one noise complaint. Still, the City of Thousand Oaks saw fit to shut down my operation after the altercation.
I had the privilege of getting to know Louis Goebel personally during this time, and he seemed to me to be a golden man. Many of the people who had worked for him when the park was open now lived on the property in trailers and mobile homes. They seemed to be truly happy, and it was obvious that they loved and adored Mr. Goebel. He told me that he was proud of the fact that he had imported more camels and elephants into the country than anyone else.
Of course, I did not produce the shows all by myself. I wish to thank my brothers, John and Brian, as well as Steve Needham, Miles Dieffenbach, Craig Caughlin, Monte McNamara, A.J. Gibson, Brian Nybo, Lee Golden, Leif Solvik, Percy Gutierrez, Terri Lamoureaux, Bill Shafer, Jeff Tobin, and Brian Steele. Special thanks to Bob Dillon, who built the second largest stage in Ventura County there, contributing all the labor and lumber for free. And a special thanks also to the girl who sold t-shirts for me, and to whom I later became married, Cathy Steele.
If anyone would like to talk to me about the old park, I can be reached at Startooth1@aol.com
- Danny B. of Winston Salem, NC on 2012-02-07 said:
- Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who told their stories here, Although I now live in North Carolina, I grew up in So. Calif and have been to and past TO a hundred times over the years. Although I was born in 62' I don't think I ever visited Jungle land.Anyways here is a cool Link to many great pictures of the park. Hope you enjoy them. ;0) http://www.stagecoachmuseum.org/jungleland_exhibit/jungleland_exhibit.htm
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2012-01-25 said:
- I can remember [hearing] the Jungleland animals way back when I grew up by Janss and Moorpark Rd. from 1957 and up. I can even remember hearing the Southern Pacific trains passing through Moorpark. Anyone remember the Simi Drive-In Theater? They used to have [on] Tuesday nights a combo drive-in movie and swap meet. Anyone remember that? I used to sell my stuff and watch the movie at the same time.
- Jim Baker of Fresno, CA on 2012-01-24 said:
- Stumbled across your site and all the great comments trying to see if my memory is still somewhat intact.. My family lived on the beach in Oxnard by the Sea Bee Base Port Hueneme. We had relatives who lived in No. Hollywood and we would would always drive by the Old Jungleland on our visits back and forth. We seemed to always be in a hurry so it was hard to get Dad to stop the car so we could see what the Park was all about. This was back in the early 50's. A two/three lane road was what I remembered of the trip and the flashing light on the only eating establishment called "Hungry ?" We did get Dad to stop once and we had our picture taken with a Cowboy and his horse. Dose anyone remember this cowboy/horse ?? or am I totally confused ?? I do recall that we knew it was the place where Hollywood would get its trained animals for the movies which were being filmed in Hollywood and Culver City. I also recall driving home through a brief snow flurry through the valley. We were so excited, all of us kids (4) talked our Dad into turning around and driving through it for a second time...What a treat that was.So much has changed through that area it is hard to recall how things used to look back in the Good Old Days..
- A Coberly of Thousand Oaks, CA on 2012-01-12 said:
- Living in Thousand Oaks during the mid 1950s and the 60's was a wonderful experience. With Jungleland less than a mile away and the sets of most of the era's great western series visible from the front yard, we enjoyed the best childhood I can imagine anybody could possibly live.
I miss the sound of roaring lions and peacocks signaling the beginning and end of each day.
I miss being stalled behind a row of elephants walking down the middle of Thousand Oaks Blvd during the drive to church on Sunday mornings.
I read with disappointment many comments about cruelty to the animals. Perhaps it is true that the ways of the early zoos throughout the world were less than ideal given the comparison to the natural environment these creature's ancestors roamed. I believe there were far worse environments that the displaced offspring of the ancestors of previously wild animals could have lived. Not to mention their loss of the opportunity to be attacked, killed and consumed in the wild by other members of the animal kingdom or hunted and left bleeding and dying after some piece of their bodies were cut off and sold to the highest bidder.
A male lion's opportunity to be pushed away to live alone and to fend for itself or starve or be killed by a younger challenger was forever relinquished when that cub was born into captivity.
It is good to see that places like San Diego's Wild Animal Park have since come into existance to make an attempt at duplicating the natural surroundings those animals should have been born into.
However, I take exception that Jungleland was a terrible place for those animals given the options available to "born-in-captivity" animals of the era.
Growing up with circus members and zoo keepers offered the opportunity to see behind the scenes. One of my childhood friends was the son of an elephant trainer who, as I recall, passed away. He was then raised by Tex and Ina Scarborough and so remained a part of the zoo culture.
We visited Jungleland after school and watched the animals being cared for. I do not recall any lions or tigers being confined to cages where they could not turn around. I do recall animals being isolated for treatment when ill. I do recall animals being moved to transport cages prior to being driven to a filming site to participate in some Hollywood production. I also recall lions and tigers being temporarily moved to a smaller enclosure before being released into the arena with Mabel to participate in a show. I was told that the lucky animals who went offsite actually looked forward to jumping into a transport container and traveling about.
Every trainer I ever knew loved the animals he or she worked with. Because these animals were being used in public shows, they were tamed far beyond the levels that those living in other zoos might have been.
As a child I remember sitting in the car in front of the Oakdale and watching Lou Long and Slim and Lorenzo perched at the local Greyhound bus stop. Frequently a Jungleland animal trainer would arrive at the store and exit a vehicle with a baby tiger or lion or chimpanzee just to name a few of the future performers I witnessed. The trainers loved their animals. They kept them with them all the time until they were too big to be considered safe in public.
Mabel's cats were her friends. She loved them. The growling act that they put on was simply that...an act. Their show was about the same as the show my dog put on when I taught her to growl and bark on command. The cracking of the whip was a noise and not a strike on their bodies. Hit a big cat and it might lose its sense of "tame" and revert to the genetic tendency to strike out with deadly force. IT WAS ALL A SHOW.
My dog's ancestors were wild creatures. I suppose I should be ashamed that I live among people who took those majestic creatures from the wild and turned them into pets.
I cringe when I visit the local vet and watch as people parade a line of wild animal's ancestors into the waiting room in little cages they innocently call "cat carriers" or "dog carriers" when they are really just tiny cages that prevent those majestic dogs and cats from turning around comfortably.
- Annabelle Nemes Postles of Eugene, Oregon on 2012-01-03 said:
- I was raised in Thousand Oaks and lived there from 1935 till 1946 when we moved to San Bernardino, CA. I was just a little girl, but, I remember the fire and the animals that died and some that escaped into the nearby hills. When I lived there it was a really small place, but I remember Oakdale Mkt, Conejo School, Knodaker's Restaurant, Don Mead's Kentucky Derby Inn, the Redwood Inn (where some movie stars stayed) Buster Smith and Smith's garage. My dad, Mike Nemes sold honey on Hwy 101, down the driveway from our house; I remember the Kellys; went to school with Alma Goebel and went to the performances at what was then called Goebel's Lion Farm at the time; remember Caroline Delgado and the Godinez's; Lake Sherwood and Janss Ranch;gathering wild mushrooms off the hills. Petting the feet of a lioness in her cage. What a magical time it was even though it was the depression, I loved it.
- jim galati of denver, co. on 2011-12-31 said:
- The Galati family, my parents & I, aunts, uncles & cousins traveled by covered wagon from NY to Thousand Oaks in 62/63. They bought 2 houses next to each other on Calle Morera, ($13K each)
We lived at the Island Village apts. on T.O. bl, near Jungleland. My 2 aunts, Marge & Ann, worked at House of Orlando, but then decided to open their own restaurant just up the bl. called the Villa Roma. The whole family worked there. At 15, I was the sterilization tech. (dishwasher).We hitched up the covered wagons again in the late 80's, & all moved to Las Vegas. Today, some are still stuck in the desert, others are in Arzonia, I am now in Denver, CO., but my 30 years in T.O. will always be my best memories.....
- Steve G. of Westlake Village, CA on 2011-12-21 said:
- To Violet of Sacramento, Lupe's is still there and remodeled not long ago. Likely the oldest establishment in T.O. still open and in the same location. I believe the same family still owns it.
To David Fruhling of Oregon, that road off Decker you are referring to is named E. Carlisle Rd. and still dead ends. We currently live down the street (gated homes have been built in the area but the horse ranches along the road still exist) and my wife and I often walk Carlisle for it's still so remote and beautiful. You can Google Earth and see for yourself. Today there is a SUV/truck driven by someone living at the end of the road having a license plate "X Trainer". Obviously the legend lives on. I only wish I lived in T.O. as most of you when growing up instead of the SFV. What an amazing place this must have been in the 50's & early to mid 60's.
- Frankie (Frances Wiseman) Bomgardner of Tigard, OR on 2011-12-09 said:
- My Grandfather, Oscar "Slim" Wiseman, was one of the elephant/animal trainers involved with Jungleland. He worked with Queenie from what I understand, until her fatal involvement with the barn fire. He was a part of some of the movies, including working with the animals in the original "Jungle Book" movie starring Sabu. I was hoping to find something about him here, but haven't. Does anyone have any additional info of his involvement?
- Jeff Glaser of Vancouver, WA on 2011-12-08 said:
- I grew up in the neighboring Westlake Village area nad remember riding my bicycle over to Jungle Land with other kids. We would freely walk around the large structure that housed the animals and often talk with handlers. My folks took me to the park a few times before it closed. I remember my aunt riding an elephant and some of the various animal shows they put on. It was really an amazing place. After it closed it really did decline quickly. When I moved away in 1973 it was mostly gone except for the old water bowls that were being used for other pruposes. For those of us who got the chance to experience it, Jungle Land will live on within our hearts and memories, and stories to the grand kids!
- violet of sacramento ca, ca on 2011-12-03 said:
- To rosie of colorado: thousand oKs in 1960 had a Rocket gas station, a five and dime.called Nixon''s, one grocery store called Oakdale Market. there was e and k market also and a hardware store amd lupe's
- Janet Curtis of SANTA CLARITA, California on 2011-12-03 said:
- I remember going to Jungleland in the late 1950's, I suppose, when I was about 12 or 13 yrs old. My mother was always curious and wanted to see what was inside a barn. We pulled open the big doors and started to walk inside. A huge elephant started walking towards us. I wanted to pet it so I walked towards it. As I got closer it raised up it's trunk and sneezed all over my arm. It was nasty. I remember my mother couldn't stop laughing. She took pictures of places our family went so I'm going to get out the old photo albums to see if I can find any photos of our visit to Jungleland.
- Violet Holt Daraitis of Rocklin, CA on 2011-11-30 said:
- I grew up in Thousand Oaks. We moved to Hampshire Road (demolished now) in 1959. Went to Conejo School. My brother worked at Jungleland around 1968, his name was John Holt. He was there the day Jayne Mansfield's son Zoltan was mauled by that lion. John passed away in 2010 but he could tell many stories about Jungleland. Does anybody remember an old movie cowboy named Lou Long, who also lived in Thousand Oaks during the fifties?
Strange character - played a stagecoach driver in many old westerns. Many tv westerns were filmed in that area - Four Star movie ranch was there - which area is now Janss Road and houses, malls, asphalt! We often visited the Rifleman's movie set cabin and watched a young Clint Eastwood filming "Rawhide." We listened to Jungleland animals every day of course, as we lived about a half mile away. I remember the animals were not treated very well. Elephants chained to the ground, hippos in filthy water and fed white bread covered in ants, lions having to snatch raw horsemeat under the cage door, broken down horses kept in a filthy pen out back of the compound and slaughtered for lion food. Even as a kid I was disturbed by the treatment of these animals. One guy worked there, some kind of announcer at the show, constantly whipped all the animals for no apparent reason. I remember his name and will not mention it here, but he should have been arrested.
We roamed the grounds of J'land after it was closed down, the deserted cages and pens. It was a ghost town. But we had many adventures and I am glad I was able to live in Thousand Oaks then. It is a very different city now! I bet I know some of you on this website. Conejo School 1963, Mrs. Glaha. TOHS 1967. I see Anita McReynolds - she lived on the corner from our house.
- Kay Ayers (Flora Glover) of Enoch, Utah on 2011-11-28 said:
- I, too, worked at Jungleland, my first job. I got called when a primate got loose, especailly the stump-tail maquec. We lost the Hippo at the lake above Malibo, while filming Dr. Doolittle.I love the animals. Had to assist helping Mama Cass on an elephant for Carol Burnett show. Had to take animals to L.A. for shoots all the time, game shows commercials. Back then if it had a wild animal in 99$ chance it came from Animal Actors dba as Jungleland. My dad Otis Glover was a graphic artist there. He also drove the train, even for the Rowen and Martin Laughin!!I went on to work at Marine World Africa USA in the bay area. Then retired to Utah with my Husband. I have tamed down, I onlly have a skunk now. God Bless all the great memories.
- bruce caplan of Thousand Oaks, ca on 2011-11-22 said:
- we moved to Thousand Oaks in 1958, and still live here. Jungle land was a great place to go as a kid and young adult. a magical place. in a town where everyone knew each other,and still do
- jim kemerling of lincoln, , california on 2011-11-21 said:
- I remember Jungleland very well. I was in the Lion's Club with Louie Gobel and he said the panther was found beneath a building it was shot and killed by Syuart Hamblen a country singer who was famous for writing and recording This Old House. Living on Glenwood Place we heard the lions roaring almost every night. We would take our students from Park Oaks School on field trips to Jungleland. Louie Gobel and Jungleland should be honored in some way by the city of TO
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2011-10-26 said:
- I just got back from a 1891 mile spin from So. Oregon through the Mojave desert, and L.A-Ventura County. Drove through Thousand Oaks and where Jungleland used to be. If I didn't already know it used to be there, I would have never known. T.O. is so developed compared to 1957 when my family moved there from Oxnard. I DID see a bare patch of land behind what used to be Joe's Tires next to the Jungleland site. Looked unchanged since the last time I was back there in '68. My brother, a friend and I were back there digging old bottles and insulators. Good to see something hasn't been paved over. I also stopped by the sight of the old Lister Rents where I worked in '75-77. The shop/office still stands! From what the late Jack Lister told me, the building used to be the barn for keeping fresh horses when the stage coaches ran up and down California. They did resurface the shop floor. That is the only change. It is now an R.V. repair. It was so good to see it wasn't plowed over for some office complex. Hope it stays the same for years to come. Anyone know what became of Toby S. and Country Cycle? Last time I saw him his store was across from the old Jungleland site. That was about 1990.
- Robert Yaeger of Milpitas, CA on 2011-09-18 said:
- I just watched a rerun of "Route 66" titled "Hell is Empty, All the Devils are Here". There are many great shots of the park. Very interesting.
- Virginia Haynes of Huntington Beach, CA on 2011-09-17 said:
- I remember going to Jungleland in the early to mid 1950s. We lived in North Hollywood and drove out there on Ventura Blvd with at least 6 kids crammed into the back seat. I don't remember any rides, but I do remember one lion named Jackie and his trainer would drag him around his cage by his tail. Great memories!
- Eric Kofoed of San Mateo, CA on 2011-09-15 said:
- I was just watching an old episode of Route 66 shot on location @ Jungleland in the 1960s. It featured a young Peter Graves in a story of revenge. The
park looked like a great place to go have a good time.
We used to have a animal/marine park named Marine World/ Africa USA 2 miles from my house. But like Jungleland it went the way of the developers and it's now the site of mega-corp. Oracle.
They sold the name when they sold the land & re-opened across the S.F. bay but it never was the same.
- greg newhall of san jose, Ca on 2011-09-14 said:
- Check out the route 66 tv episode starring Peter graves.It was all filmed there 1960 sad its gone .It looked like a different kind of place not a normal zoo.Place had lots hollywood ties with movies and tv shows .
- Bill of SLO, CA on 2011-09-11 said:
- I forgot to add that in the spring of 1982 I was taking a class at Moorpark College that required us to research our hometown. That was T.O. for me. We met with a historian for the city of T.O. who walked us around old town T.O. pointing out historical sites. We even visited the home of Mrs. Goebels, wife of former Jungleland owner. I remember I was aghast that she had a large bracelet on one hand with Nazi swastikas on it. I am not kidding. She became very emotional over the reminiscing about old T.O. It was a trip. I was only 20 y.o. then (50 now).
- Bill of SLO, CA on 2011-09-11 said:
- Our family moved to T.O. in 1971. Jungleland was closed by then, but came alive periodically in the late ‘70’s when concerts took place there. Lots of partiers showed up. I even remember a wet T-shirt contest at one of the shows. When I was an early teen, we used to ride our Schwinn sting-ray bicycles in the empty pools of closed down Jungleland. It was cool. Also, I remember in the late ‘70’s there was on at least one occasion a car rally in the old parking lot. We used to park in that same parking lot for the Conejo Valley Days parade. Great memories…
- Sheila Pappas of Mission Hills, CA on 2011-08-15 said:
- We used to go to Jungleland alot when I was a child-born 1950. Once Cheetah was there and he sat next to me and took my ice cream cone. His trainer got me another.
I also remember once we were looking inside where the elephants were kept and one started walking towards us when the chain came out of the ground. He started coming fast and I remember we were running for our lives( probably not). From then on my mom collected elephant statues.
Remember all of the lions roaring at feeding time and the large chunks of meat- If I knew what I knew now about circuses and trained animals and such I would not have been so impressed. As an innocent little girl though I have great memories. My parents got me a whip like the lion tamer and I used to snap it at my sister. It made a great sound.I still have the handle in my stuff.
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2011-08-13 said:
- I just heard another "escaped black panther" story from Richard Cantrell, the farrier who does the work on our mini-horse. He also lived in Thousand Oaks for many years. His went like this: "A friend of mine saw what he thought was the escaped panther. He was disabled, so he had his wife run in and get his rifle. He shot it! Being disabled, he sent his wife to check it out. She came back and told him he had just shot the neighbors cat." Also, Richard told me that the panther was found, still on the Jungleland property and never made it out. Just took a while to locate it. So, kids, the "escaped panther" story WAS true, it just never left Jungleland. All these "black panther" sightings were actually just black cats. Sorry to ruin the urban legend of "The Escaped Black Panther".
- Stan Schutze of San Diego, CA on 2011-08-10 said:
- Photo from Jungleland
- CM Hewlett of Wilsonville, Oregon on 2011-07-31 said:
- As a child in the late 50s or early 60s I saw Mel Koontz working with big cats at Jungleland in Thousand Oaks, California.
During the act with three lions Koontz had a particularly unruly lion advance on him, forcing him to back up at which time he tripped over a stool and fell.
The lion spang at him and ripped open his trousers, cutting him leg.
The other handlers entered the cage immediately and forced the cats back with Koontz escaping without further injury.
Quite the day for me and my younger brother!
- Jim Eads of Simi Valley, California on 2011-07-29 said:
- I was born (1956) and raised in Thousand Oaks and lived up the street from Louis Goebel's son and wife, Gene and Annabelle. They had 3 sons that were younger than I by a few years. Around the corner lived Chet and Joanne Juszyk. Chet's son, Mike, is one of my best friends and we went all the way through school together. We both graduate from Newbury Park High (me in '74/Mike '76). Chet was the lion tamer who got mauled prior to Jayne Mansfield's son Zoltan getting mauled in later years. Joanne was a trapeze artist. We use to get to go to Jungleland regularly and watch them feed the cats. Remember the little steam train ride? That was built by Gene Goebel and he built stuff like that in his garage. A very talented man. I have lost track of them but would love to meet up with any of the remaining Goebel family. I do still remain in contact with the Juszyk family and sadly Chet passed away within the past year. They had moved to the greater Phoenix area many years ago. I have tons of Thousand Oaks stories and I actually saw the escaped black panther in the hills south of Westlake Damn in the mid 1960s where they filmed Daniel Boone. Carol Ackerman (Kjorlein) mentions the Ranch Foreman for the Russell/Albertson Ranch. That was my Uncle Jack Braden and his daughter Pam was Carol's best friend. THOUSAND OAKS was the best place on the planet to grow up as a kid. Bar none!
- Kathy of Santa Clarita, California on 2011-07-27 said:
- I was 3 years old in 1955 when my grandfather thought it was a good idea to put me on the elephant ride (in a cart). I was terrified, but by the end of the ride, I didn't want to get off. I still remember that day. Wish we still had a place like that for my own kids to enjoy.
- Mike Sommer of Simi, CA on 2011-07-19 said:
- My grandfather Hal Sommer worked for Columbia Pictures for 44 years when he retired in 1972. He told of the many pictures that were filmed in and around Junglland and that stretch of Thousand Oaks Blvd, such as It Happened One Night and King Rat- just to name a quick few.
- Sandy of Santa Monica, Ca on 2011-07-18 said:
- All of your stories are so great, especially since I only know this as a party place. In the late 70's we would drive all the way to T.O. for a day of partying,dancing and listening to bands at Jungleland. All of you have so many great memories of such a different place. Trust me, our memories are great too but very different. Its wonderful to know that it was really a "place",besides just the party place. Who knew?
- Carmen Armendariz of Palmdale, California on 2011-07-14 said:
- My family visited Jungleland almost every week when we lived there. My mother had jobs all over town, mostly in restaurants,and knew Shirley McGraw, whose husband, Dick McGraw, was a lion and tiger trainer. He was the best I saw in their cage on the Big Stage. He was graceful with the lions, but also very fast and exciting. He was teaching a new young guy then, Roger Smith. Both of these guys were so nice to us and talked to us when some others didn't too much. Roger said Jungleland was where you needed to be to learn training of big cats. He was very soft-spoken, and handsome like Alan Ladd. He had the act with lions like Dick, and was just as fast and dramatic. Our girls's hearts fluttered when he performed. Others said he brought back memories of a great trainer named Clyde Beatty. Roger also learned from Mabel Stark, the elderly woman who trained tigers for fifty years. He was the only one she wanted to take time to teach, they all said. Boy, we never forgot Dick and Roger and Mabel, who still worked a tiger act in her old age. We know Mabel died of a broken heart when she had to leave her tigers. We heard Roger went to work on circuses. I wish we knew where he is now. Carmen, in Palmdale. (I borrowed a computer--don't have one.)
- Stephen of Ventura, CA on 2011-07-14 said:
- I'd like to correct one bit of information in the article about the black panther escape. It wasin 1963. I was in fifth grade at the time at Weathersfield School in Thousand Oaks and remember it well. The panther was discovered after a day or two, still within the Jungleland compound, hiding under a cage, and was shot and killed. I'm not sure why they felt the need to kill it.
My mother, my brother, and I all worked at Jungleland, my mom and I working there right up until it closed. Several people here have mentioned Orlando's. My next job after Jungleland was bussing tables at Orlando's.
- Debbi of Flower Mound, TX on 2011-07-09 said:
- Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and just read Jeff Maulhardt's, Jungleland! What an awesome book with photos galore and so many bits of the days! My dad, Bob Kellogg (LA Zoo) close friends with Wally Ross, John Strong Jr., Chet Juszyk (in Peoria, AZ) and so many other great folks. I just read some of these posts to him (he's in Fillmore, CA.) and it was a wonderful stroll down memory lane! Thanks!!
- Cherie of Simi Valley, CA on 2011-07-03 said:
- I remember on one occasion I got to take a picture of me laying on top of the sleeping lion that was chained to a post on the porch of a an old rustic house. The lion was obviously drugged at the moment. How parents were ok with this amazes me. I had no fear then. What was I thinking. A ten year old kid. We rode large turtles and goats that were roaming freely ate my dress. I remember buying little amounts of food to feed the animals. Lots of people with their kids taking pictures.It was a fun place to be a part of as a child.
- Bruce of Sherman Oaks, CA on 2011-06-27 said:
- I never could get dad to take me there (missed Santa's Village too). He insisted there was nothing there to see, but a bunch of old buildings. I was really disappointed.
- John of Thousand Oaks, california on 2011-06-25 said:
- I was born in 1964,and barely remember jungleland,walkin over some bridge where you could look down and see maybe water and a jungle atmosphere. Later,in the mid 70s,I used to ride my minibike with my friend in the old jungleland parking lot next to taco bell.And i helped served sodas at the John Strong Circus,too,good memories.
- Rosie of Paso Robles, Ca on 2011-06-13 said:
- I stand corrected. I have a video of the old Roach Ranch in which Stan Laurel's daughter Lois says the ranch was in the San Fernando Valley. If wrong, no biggie. Jungleland was a one of a kind place. My folks built their home on Montgomery Road in 1957 surrounded by the Peterson Ranch. Great place to grow up. Very rural. You could hear the animals from Jungleland at night...especailly the howler monkey. Used to scare me to no end! I have not visited 1000 Oaks in many years but hope to visit next month after a reunion I am attending in Anaheim. I did not really have any friends in T.O. as once I went to high school I went to a private girls high school in Los Angeles. But my 2 best friends from Conejo Valley School were Carol Lafferty and Georgia Isiah. Jungleland was a great place to visit. I recall the first Conejo Valley Days parade I saw also. Ward Bond of "Wagon Train" was the grand marshall and I recall getting up off the sidewalk and walking up to him on his horse and saying hello. He tipped his hat to me and grinned saying "hello little lady". What days!
- mary brodeur of san diego, ca. on 2011-06-05 said:
- I lived in 1000 Oaks in the days of Jungleland. No one mentioned Trader Horne, who I was a housekeeper for. He lived across the street on T.O. Blvd. and he was part owner with Goeble. Trader Horne went to Liberia and all over the world to get the animals. I have pictures (autographed) of Mable Starke with her tigers. I was in the Conejo Valley Hospital when they brought Jane Manfield's son in. Remembering the good old Conejo Valley Days! I have lots of slides of the parade . Many eight by tens of Ronald Regan with his chimp for the movie 'Bedtime For Bonzo' and posters of the movie.
- Sharon of somis, Calif on 2011-05-30 said:
- I remember being at Jungleland one day in 1966 and they were filming "Where the Action Is". I had my little nieces with me and Sonny and Cher were there. Cher stopped and talked to us and let us take pictures with her. I was so impressed with how nice she was.
I also had a friend who lived across the street from Jungleland and could never get used to the strange animal sounds at night. Great memories.
- Kathy Davis of McLean, VA on 2011-05-10 said:
- I remember Jungleland in the 1950's. My one vivid memory of it is of a lion or tiger in a cage so small it could not stretch out and could barely turn around. Even though I was only 8 or 9, it so saddened me to see an animal treated like that, I never wanted to go back.
- Michael V. of Thousand Oaks, CA on 2011-05-09 said:
- I wish I lived in Thousand Oaks back in the 60's & 70's. I moved from PA in 1978 first to Simi then moved on my own to T.O. in 1982. Too many people here now and too many unkind ones at that. It was best for me around the middle and late 80's. I truly miss the smaller town feel it had then.
- Ed Moyer of Redding, CA on 2011-05-07 said:
- I was born in Thousand Oaks in 1939 when the population was probably about 900 to 1200 residents. My siblings and I attended school there (at Conejo grade school I think)and we moved to Canoga Park when I was seven. My father worked at the Lion Farm prior to my birth as an animal handler. He was proud to have handled the original "Leo the Lion". My older brother's play pen was a small unused lion cage(I'm not sure what that infers about him).
I have a copy of the auction sale inventory book that lists, among other items, 1,800 animals and birds that were sold Oct. 8 & 9, 1969. Also, I have the L.A Times realy interesting obituary of Louis Goebel who died at 84 on April 24, 1981. Looking at these items gives a sense of sad nostalgia but what a great contrbution to the lives of untold numbers of people in its 50 years of existance.
- Chip Cunningham of Pensacola, FL on 2011-04-18 said:
- What wonderful stories! We moved the Newbury Park in 1962 where I attended 4th grade at Walnut Elementary. We moved to T.O. two years later. T.O. was a FANTASTIC place to grow-up. I remember Jungle Land well and hunting in the hills, riding our dirt bikes just about everywhere between T.O. and Newburry Park. Not to much riding room now days. The Ventura Freeway actually went right though T.O. now Thousand Oaks Blvd. We always looked forward to Conejo Valley Days. Thank you guys for the great memories and some I had forgotten like Shakeys Pizza. I'm remember the big breakfast place that burnt down on T.O. Blvd that had ducks in the back we used to feed. We used to hang out on weekends at Dupars and find out when and where the next street races would be held. And the Drive-In on Saturday night - WOW! Thank you T.O. for a wonderful life. I was drafted in 1972 and left T.O. for good but my heart is stilsl there.
- Sharon Book of Pagosa Springs , CO on 2011-04-13 said:
- ....many weekends were spent here at Jungleland... My dad was in "Show business" in the 40s and 50s - was Johnny Weismuller's maseur - and we spent our weekends here...roaming around - never paid a dime.... This was the place - along with Seminole Hot Springs and Lake Enchanto. The 101 Freeway stopped at Tampa, it Ventura Blvd. was a 2-lane road going up to Oxnard... Remember it all so well...
- Chris Jenkins of Folsom, LA on 2011-03-01 said:
- I stumbled on this site by accident,I grew up in T.O. in the sixtys Mel Koontz's was a friend of my parents and I remember going up to his house on Ventu Park where he had Jackie and another lion and Mel telling us the stories of being Tarzan's stunt double and showing all the scars on his chest from the lions jumping on him out of the trees,and explaining how when his sight went bad the lions could tell and would come at him from the side he couldn't see well.I still have pictures of me riding the giant tortoise for adds for the YMCA where my mom worked
- Richard Zahnter of Lake Hughes, CA on 2011-01-31 said:
- This site really brings back memories of T.O./Newbury Park of the late '50's-early '60's.My family first moved to T.O. in 1958, then to Newbury Park in 1960. Dad had a garage at the bottom of Ventu Park Rd., across from the ORIGINAL stage stop.Went to Park Oaks Elementary, Timber, and Walnut schools before moving to Simi. My co-conspirator, Mike Roberts and I used to ride our bikes all over the Conejo Valley, including stops at Jungleland and exploring the Baranca. Too many memories to write here---!
- Jack Negrete of Dayton, Nevada on 2011-01-25 said:
- I was 3 years old in '67 when we moved to Thousand Oaks. We lived about 6 miles from Jungle Land over on Galsworthy Street off of Gainsborough. Growing up in TO was amazing. I moved to Nevada from TO in '97. My fondest memories included going to Jungle Land and for whatever reason, I mostly remember the seals and sealions. The circus that would frequent our area was the John Strong Circus. After Jungle Land closed down, i have memories of my dad driving us around back of the old Taco Bell, down the dirt road and into the torn down Jungle land site. i remember seeing peacocks running around. John Strong would park his circus wagons back there in the old JL site as well. Good times...Good Times....
- Ray Yeager of Yucca Valley , CA on 2010-12-28 said:
- My grand parents Lulu and Charles Yeager opened Yeager’s Auto Camp near Jungle Land in the late 1930’s. It was a few hundred yards north of the entrance. I spent many wonderful weekends and summer days wondering around the animal park. Louie Gobel often ate at my grand parents restaurant.
Many animal acts spent the winter at the animal park. When Captain Winston and his seals were there I was paid 15 cents to hose down his seals before the Sunday afternoon performance. I was there when Mable Stark was attacked by one of her leopards’ and remembers people screaming for some one to call a doctor. MGM’s Leo The Lion was housed there and I remember scratching his mane, which felt like steel wool. The Auto camp had four cabins in the back and more then once, people would arrive late, not knowing the animal park was near by, would hear the animals growling, especially the lions, and would ask for their money back!
The actor Sabu, starred in the film “Jungle Book” and many photographers were there for publicity shots with him on an elephant. They saw me standing near by and had me also get with him. Quite a thrill! In the forties a fire broke out in the elephant barn and many elephants died that day. I was devastated when I heard the news. I have more stories if anyone is interested.
- Bruce R of Corbett, Oregon on 2010-12-19 said:
- I remember jungle land well. As a kid my dad would always take us to shakeys pizza after little league games and you could hear the lions roaring from shakeys bathrooms. haha.
- Bruce R. of Corbett , Oregon on 2010-12-19 said:
- I was born and lived in thousand oaks from 1961 to 2000. Class of 79 It was a great place to grow up.Where I live now is like T.O. was back in the 70s. not crowded and plenty of space.The only thing missing is jungle land ;)
- Anonymous on 2010-12-03 said:
Great site of history! Does anyone remember an elephant that had the tip of one of his tusks broken off?
- Mark of Chatsworth, CA on 2010-11-17 said:
- Moved to TO in 1976 and recall what was left of Jungle Land and its stories. It was a skatebaording mecca and for the most part TO Blvd from there to NP was a dirt road. Jungle land brings back some good fun memories and of course Fosters Donuts and Shakey's for the grub after our fun. I might even have some old photo's of that place or of the Westlake area MX track (of course all pre WLHS - now North Ranch
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2010-10-01 said:
- I don't know how the Stagecoach Inn can be haunted. It was moved to its present site then burned completely down and rebuilt with all new wood from the joints up. I would think both having been moved then burnt down would have driven any ghosts away.
- Luke of SF, CA on 2010-08-23 said:
- I remember JungleLand. And, of course, the Orlandos. (doug - old buddy, goodnight) House of Orlando's had the best Italian food around. "Duuuke", "Duuuke" the old man would call me. I don't remember his name, but I remember helping him out on his plot of land at the top of Ventu Park Rd. He had "Cheetah" (the old tarzan chimp), and a few other exotic animals up there. He was on old Circus recluse, and needed help with the animals. I also knew Dorothy Herbert from this guy. She was a bareback rider in the circus. I didn't clear out the "bowls" at JungleLand, but did clear out the "bowls" of an old reservoir between 4-winds riding stable, and Cypress elementary (i was a student there) - we lived on Beech Rd (off of Ventu Park Rd),Danville rd. and Fallbrook - anyone remember Augie Dogs next to Fazio's?(at one time we had two homes) and in the late 70's we moved to "the city" - from NP to Thousand Oaks, and lived on Hendrix next to the park. I remember the dirt bike races around Conejo Valley Days. There was a place out by Simi called "Mumps" or "Gumps" (i think) - they had dirt races out there a lot. We loved Conejo Valley days. We would go there and make a few extra dollars by "sticking the dogs" for the corn dog folks. We did that for many years. The good ol' days! Cool Site, Great Memories. And Yes Shakey's Shakey's Shakey's!!
- Teresa of Houston, TX on 2010-05-22 said:
- I remember going to Jungleland! It was awesome. I would love to see a book written and a memorial built.
I also remember when the John Strong Circus came to Orcutt. They performed in the Orcutt Jr High Gym. it was the first circus I had ever seen and I was enthralled.
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2010-03-16 said:
- This is to Jill Connolly Gomes. It's Tuesday morning, 3/16. Chris Marin just left my house (in So. Ore.) on his way to visit his Dad, Andrew, on Colegate. From there he is heading down further to a reunion of our friends from Thousand Oaks. I think it is to be in the Palm Springs area. (I can't make it) I sent him a spare T.O.H.S. yearbook from '73 for the gang to sign.(I am class of '73, Chris...'72) If you want to say hi to him, he should be at his Dad's this evening and will be there a few days, I believe. His Mother passed a few years ago. Your name sounds familiar. I lived at the corner of Montgomery Rd. and Briar Cliff 5 houses past Toni, Tina and the rest of the Orlandos. I'll check my yearbook for your pic. Too bad you never went to Jungleland. We could hear the animals at night from our house. Conditions had to be right. Now, with the freeways, it would be impossible.
- Jim Isham of Concord, California on 2010-03-12 said:
- I saw a post on hhere from Carole (Kjorlein)Akerman saying her da's best friend was foreman at the Triunfo Ranch. Was this when it was still owned by the Russells? I am trying to obtain some history on the Russell Bros as my Aunt was married to Harvey Russell.If you have any stories ir events that you know I would love to hear about them.
- Jill Connolly Gomes of Ojai, Ca. on 2010-03-05 said:
- I lived in Thousand Oaks from 1957 to 1983. It was the greatest place to live. I lived across the street from Judy and Tom Orlando and next to Chris Marin. We could walk everywhere and we did. When we moved to another part of town you could hear the lions every night from Jungleland. I never went to Jungleland but I remember when Jane Mansfield's son was mauled. I did go to the Thousand Oaks Beauty Pageant when Jane's daughter Mariska was a contestant. I still remember the dress she wore that night. I do not know why I would remember this. I also remember being sent home from Waverly School when the panther was loose.
- Taci Philbrook of Portland , Oregon on 2010-02-16 said:
- Randy Doyle...did you know my grandmother Genie? During the time you were there she trained under Mable Stark and became a performer in the ring at Jungleland. She also showed monkeys and minah birds...
- Robin Kabat Dickson of Central Point, Oregon on 2010-02-08 said:
- I just happened upon this site and found it very interesting. I am Roy Kabat's daughter and lived at the Jungleland complex during the mid to late 1950's. It was a wonderful place to grow up and learn about animals. The trainers were wonderful. I have a lot of Jungleland and circus memorabelia, including my father's copy of the script for Dr. Doolittle with his hand written notes in the margins. It was a great place to grow up.
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2010-02-05 said:
- I just re-read Wayne Gales comment about hearing the Jungleland lions while living in Hidden Valley. I think he was hearing different lions. There is a dead end street off Decker Road about 2 miles out of Westlake. At the end of that road lived (may still be there) someone who had exotic animals. This would be pretty close to Hidden Valley. They had lions and chimps among other animals. I used to hear them VERY easily while sitting on "The Rock" which was a party spot up in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the Conejo Valley. You could see the animals from the rock. I remember seeing a tiger pacing in a cage. Might have been a lion. It's been about 30 years since I was last up there. I lived at the corner of Montgomery and Briar Cliff Roads in T.O. (about 3 miles as the crow flies from Jungleland) and could hear the animals at night. Could even hear the trains going through Moorpark at night. That was in the early to mid-sixties when it was quieter and there were no freeways (101 and 23) Very rural back then. Too bad it is all gone.
- Randy Doyle of La Quinta, CA on 2009-12-22 said:
- I find it interesting that the stories of Jayne Mansfield and the Zoltan Hargaty lion mauling make up so much of the thread. I'll throw in my memories of that day in keeping with the spirit of the group. Jayne Mansfield was coming to Jungleland for a publicity shoot. She arrived in a red Ferrari that pulled up to the entry gate only to find that it was not for vehicle access so her driver was asked to back up. I was working in the office that day and saw the arrival and the Ferrari. The driver couldn't back up because the Ferrari's reverse gear didn't work so I was enlisted along with several others to push it back to where the driver was able to maneuver into a parking space. She had a chase car with her agent, a lady friend and Zoltan, her son. They went off on a VIP tour by Roy Kabat to the Tarzan's Jungle area where the photo shoot was to be held as well. Life returned to normal and we employees were buzzing about Jayne Mansfield being there. A bit later while attending the office switchboard a panic call came in from the Baby Zoo with one of our employees there screaming that we needed ambulances immediately as the lions were loose and biting people. I turned around to Marie Kabat, told her and she told me to run down to the Baby Zoo and see what was going on while she tried to call them back. As I was running through the parking lot (not even thinking about why I was running to an area where the lions were biting people), Roy Kabat was running across the parking lot towards the office carrying an unconscious and bleeding child screaming at me to "Get the keys to the Cadillac" which was his personal car. I ran back to the office and yelled to Mrs. Kabat to give me the keys to the Cadillac which she did (she was very bright and a quick study). I turned around and Mr. Kabat was next to his Cadillac with the bleeding Zoltan and said, "Get in and drive us to the hospital" - which I started to do when Jayne, her agent and friend caught up to us as we were backing out and screamed for us to stop and let them in which we did. One of the animal handlers went out and stopped traffic on TO Blvd and we screamed out of the parking lot heading for the hospital. I was on the horn, flashing the headlights and we made it in good time with Jayne sobbing hysterically and her friend screaming "Pray Jayne, pray" in the back seat. I do remember taking some corners at a pace fast enough for Mr. Kabat cradling Zoltan to slide across the Cadillac's bench seat and bump into my right side which shortly became covered with blood. Fortunately, we arrived at the emergency room in time for Zoltan to survive the wounds that Sam (the lion) caused and the nurses washed out my shirt with cold water to keep it from staining. As the story of the incident unfolded, Jayne and her group were in Tarzan's Jungle, Zoltan wandered off on his own and stepped on one of the infected paws of Sam (a tame contact cat) and Sam grabbed him by the back of the neck as cats do with prey. I read Barry Rand's account and would agree with everything he said adding only that Roy Kabat and Sam's trainer got Zoltan out of the lion's mouth and the trainer dislocated his shoulder in the process. Their actions and Roy Kabat's quick thinking likely saved Zoltan's life.
- Randy Doyle of La Quinta, CA on 2009-12-21 said:
- Great to see all of the Jungleland stories. I worked there from 1964 on and off until 1967. Then part of it, the entertainment area, was owned by John Ginelli and I believe Gobel owned the land and import export side of the business.
Roy Kabat was the General Manager and his wife Marie (Ginelli's daughter) was the next in command. In the entertainment area (what the public saw) there were two camps of employees. One camp was the animal shows and the animal handlers which were older animal handling and training professionals who largely came from circuses, carnivals or ranches. The other camp was the rides, ticket takers and snack bar crews who, like myself, were high school and college students. The snack and gift concessions were run by Tex Scarborough and his wife Ida.I remember the business in those years as fairly good but at times cash starved when they would give us our weekly paychecks and ask us not to cash them for a couple of days. I was fortunate enough to hold many jobs at Jungleland from ticket taker, to train operator, office staff, sign painter, tour bus driver and filled in for Scott (?) at times as stage announcer. It was a great experience and the Kabats and Scarboroughs provided numerous opportunities for the TO youth to work, make money to help pay for college.
- Pat Parlier-Cook of Newbury Park, CA on 2009-12-06 said:
- I moved to
Thousand Oaks from the San Fernando Valley in 1963. I remember my dad and I driving down Thousand Oaks Blvd and having to wait behind a truck with a giraffe. We had to wait for the giraffe to lower it's head to get under the power lines before we could move on. I also remember standing AWAY from the chimp cage as tourists got up close to the cage. We all knew he would be throwing something at them. He never let us down! Growing up in Thousand Oaks was the best.
- Lissa Anderson of Thousand Oaks, ca on 2009-11-20 said:
- My parents moved to T.O. in 1961 lived on Willow Lane. It was so fun growing up in old town. Attended Conejo Elementary. Jungle Land was right down the street and boy could we hear the lions roar. Also remember riding the elephant. and going in the petting zoo. Quite often we would look in the back yard and see an escaped animal. What fun walking to Oakdale Market and riding my horse to Milts Diner with Sue Boykin. Wish my kids could run around town like I did.
- Chris Bungo of Miami, Florida on 2009-11-07 said:
- The Hal Roach Studios ranch site can now be definitively placed at these boundaries in the Beverlywood section of Los Angeles:
Robertson Blvd on the East
Canfield Avenue on the West
The northern property line of the houses on the north side of David Avenue
The southern property line of the houses on the south side of David Avenue
Thanks to Marc at Bison Archives for providing me with the photographs that allowed me to pinpoint the location with 100% accuracy.
- Wayne gales of Deerfield Beach, F on 2009-11-06 said:
- I lived in the area from 1962 to 1968. My dad had an upholstery shop directly across the street from Jungleland. When they did lion shows, sometimes by female lion trainer Mabel Stark, at the end of the performance when the audience applauded, the Lions Roared. When Zoltan Hargate (Jayne Mansfields son) was mauled, my brother, who was a volunteer firemand and ambulance driver, responded and transported him to the hospital. Later in 1966-68, I lived on a ranch in Hidden Valley, which was probally 15-20 miles over the hill from Jungleland, and you could hear the Lions roar in the middle of the night.
- Chuck Cortrite of Reseda, a on 2009-10-30 said:
- My mother was born on the Russell ranch in 1921 her maden name was Eileen Montijo my Father Bill Cortrite cane out from Inglewood Ca in the thirties to work at the lion farm with his cousin Bob Peck I have pictures of the lion farm from this era and a year book from the Conejo School where my mom went
My dad just died in january but mom is still alive and lining here in Reseda she talks about the old times of thousand oaks often
My e mail is email@example.com
if any one wants to talk
- Teresa Chandler-Leno of Madras, Oregon on 2009-10-29 said:
- How cool I came across this, I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents and the Goebel's when I was a kid in the 60's. My grandfather was one of the animal trainers especially of the camels used for movies and camel races. My parents worked at Jungleland when I was a baby and my mom always shared stories with my friends when I was growing up about changing my diapers and the baby chimps diapers that she was caring for at the same time. I have some cool pictures and souvenir memorabilia from Jungleland back in the day that has been passed down to me from my grandparents. Thanks for sharing about Jungleland, it holds a special place in my families history.
- Bruce of Woodcrest, California on 2009-10-28 said:
- I lived in Thousand Oaks from 1961 to 1966 and remember going to Jungle Land many times. One morning in the fog my dad almost ran his 57 Buick in to a bunch of Elephants on the Ventura highway on their way to a movie set. No freeway yet and we could walk there from our house. Have not been back to Thousand Oaks in over 40 years.
- Jeff Cody Morris of Venice, CA on 2009-10-28 said:
- Goeble leased Jungleland to my Grandfather Jimmy Wood who pumped most of the money into the actual amusement park. He brought the remains of his circus the "Yankee Patterson" there in the sixtees after POP burned down in Santa Monica. Before that it was just a winter quarters for other circuses.
- Chris Bungo of Miami Beach, FL on 2009-10-26 said:
- The comment from: Rosie of Montrose, Colorado on 2009-02-07 is not correct.
The "Hal Roach Studios" ranch was located near Culver City, specifically, on the land currently bounded by Canfield Avenue on the east, David Avenue on the north, roughly S. Beverly Drive on the west and roughly Beverlywood Street on the south.
- Kat Masten of Thousand Oaks, California on 2009-10-13 said:
- Hi everyone! Great stories here...and you have all expressed great memories. I myself did not move to TO until after Jungleland Closed.. 37 years later I have been recruited to develope a website for the Historical society in dedication to the Majoe accomplishmnets of the founders of Thousand Oaks & the Conejo Valley...and one of the Exhibits at the museum is "Jungleland" - I am building the webpage and have next to nothing in pictures or real information - There are sites with info - however they are all the same and I know there are more out there. If you have any photos I can use on the site I would be excited to talk to you. They can be in any condition as I can scan original (or you can provide Hi res Scan) and restore the images for use. I will be happy to trade restored images back to for the favor!! email: firstname.lastname@example.org ...Also if you have trinkets you would like to put on loan to the Museum - Contact Museum Director Sandy Hildebrant at Stagecoach Inn Museum email: email@example.com -
- Jay Scott of Sylmar, Ca on 2009-09-14 said:
- I remember it was heavily advertised on the local media along with Corriganville and POP.
We visited once with my cousin, took the ride down Devonshire to the Old Susana Pass Rd (didn't visit Corriganville tho) all I remember was a huge elephant chained at the foot. The we looked at new homes in Encino.
- DAniel W. of Los Angeles, CA on 2009-08-20 said:
- Thanks for the AMAZING recollections about Jungleland. I grew up in LA and have memories of alot, but I never knew this place existed. If you want to see a little clip of Jungleland on You Tube, search for the song 98.6 by Keith. He's singing his big hit at Jungleland and they do a panoramic view of the place before he starts. Could actually be the same day Jayne Mansfields son was mauled there as someone wrote on the boards that they were filming that day at Jungleland when Zoltan was mauled by the lion.
- catherine maleski of gilbert , az on 2009-08-14 said:
- i grew up in santa barbara then moved to t.o. in '76. in high school jungleland was the place to meet on fri. nights to find out where the parties were that weekend! and the pools were still there, empty and used for skateboarding during the day. good times, plus don't forget the yukon belle bar was also across the street before all the good stuff was torn down for what we have there now. bummer.
- James Ford of Amarillo, Texas on 2009-08-08 said:
- I grew up in Oxnard in the 1950's. I fondly remember Jungleland. What a place!!! Our family made many trips there, and we still have the 8 MM films of it. I also remember the gumball machines, and the animals not giving you a chance to actually GET the food to give them. One, a goat, actually jumped up with both front feet onto my chest, just to know the food out of my hands, and into it's mouth. lol.
As a college freshman at Moorpark, I used to cut class just to go hang out at the site of Jungleland. I was around whent he camels for the movie "Hawmps" were being brought in and trained.
I briefly met Louis Goebel, and some of the animal trainers. VERY special people.
- Charlie Colwell of Oakley, California on 2009-07-21 said:
- I would like to comment on what Bary Rands of Arroyo Grande, CA on 2008-08-19 said about the mauling of Jane Mansfield's son. In 1966 I was 9 years old and had my appendix taken out in the old hospital in Thousand Oaks. I beleive it was December. My Dr. was Dr. Dedeo who I may still practice in T.O. I shared a room with Jane Mansfield's son Zoltan and 2 other kids for one week. We talked a lot & you can imagine how impressed I was to listen to him describe the attack to me directly, and show me his wounds. His mom came in every day. I was only 9 & had no idea what a sex symbol was all about, to me she was just a kid's mom who happened to be in the movies. I do remember that his Mom threw a fit because the Head nurse forced him to move from a private room to a shared room (with us). She was also complaining about the walls being ruined by all of the photos & decorations that Ms. Mansfield had put on the walls of the private room. I guess the tape had pulled off the paint. I had forgotten what his name was until I just read it. He was in the old hospital alot longer than I was. His head was bandaged & had a lot of stitches. I beleive he died in a car crash a few years after his mom. He was a nice kid & pleasant company to recoup with. Thanks for the memory flash-back. Charlie
- Vincent Alvarez of Phoenix, Arizona on 2009-07-15 said:
- Does anyone remember a kid TV show
called Chako the Birthday Clown in
the 60's that was from Jungleland?
- Jim Lynch of Eustis, Florida on 2009-07-11 said:
- I remember Jungleland very well. The day Zoltan was mauled, they were also filming an old music show called "Where The Action Is". I was working there that day and was about 20 feet away during the incident. That was quite a memory, indeed.
- Ingrid Kelly of Barstow, California on 2009-07-10 said:
- My dad worked at Jungleland in the 1960's. I was wondering if anyone had pictures or postcards from this time frame... He's got a story to tell "COMING SOON" Thanks... Ingrid Kelly
- Kirk Davenport of Tehachapi, California on 2009-07-05 said:
- I remember going to JungleLand in the early 1960's. There were a lot of memories for us kids there. I remember putting a coin into a gumball machine that dispensed animal feed you were supposed to collect and give to animals in the petting areas. Well, the instant you got near those things all the animals would flock over and gobble everything that would come out of them before you could even try and feed them. I also had an ostrich take a dump on my shoe, not a happy occurrence. Does anyone remember the little gray haired old woman with the cigarette in her mouth, the whip, and the jungle hat...who was a tuger/lion tamer? It was hilarious. She'd shout and crack that whip and those cats would cower from her. They coulda' killed her at any time.
Thanks for posting this! Blast from the past.
- steven janssen of conejo valleyon 2009-07-05 said:
- hello to all!! i was just thinking about the early days of t.o. again and it came to mind that i still have one of the lion cages from jungleland,its a big heavy duty cage made out of wood and heavy wire,its about 8 feet by 6 feet and about 7 feet tall, with some very heavy metal lifting straps to place a cable and move it around. its on skids and my dad and i drug it home to our house on calle verbena behind his old ford bronco after they shut down jungleland! it made a good club house for us when we were kids! now just odds and ends thrown in it.. maybe i should put it on display at the arts plaza.. it is a real peice of thousand oaks history!!
- Alma of Whittier, CA on 2009-07-03 said:
- I was born and spent my childhood in the San Fernando Valley and remember going to Jungleland as a very young child. My parents still have pics of me and my brother at Jungleland including a pic of me and my mom riding one of the elephants. Boy, was I scared! And you can tell by the expression on my face in the pic! It's too bad that Jungleland is no more.
- Carol (Kjorlien) Ackerman-Howton of Williams, Oregon on 2009-07-02 said:
- I lived in T.O. from 1959 until 1984. I went to Conejo Elementary school in 1959. I used to ride my horse all over town and past Jungleland probably every day. My next door neighbor, (Wally Ross)worked at Jungleland, as well as POP (Pacific Ocean Park.) I used to work in a beauty shop where Mabel Stark would come in to get her hair done every week by my friend & co worker Rose. I ate at Harolds House of Omlettes where occasionally I would have great conversations with Joel Mcray while we ate at the counter. One of my best friends dad was the foreman of the Triunfo Ranch, (Now Westlake Village.) I was like a part of their family, I miss all of them. I was always around when Lassie was being filmed, they also made Combat there. Slim Pickens would occasionally come out. I was even lucky enough to be an extra in "The Roustabout", & Elvis sat right across from me on a carousel horse. My Dad & Mom knew Eve Arden, who lived out in Lake Sherwood, they got a post card from her when she did "Hello Dolly", I believe in New York. I sure miss those days, what fun.
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2009-06-27 said:
- Me again. I just remembered another Jungleland tidbit. Does anyone remember when they held the races in the parking lot in the early '70's? There is a name for these races. starts with a 'K'. I can pronounce it, but can't spell it. My brother George tried entering his '64 Corvair in these races, but thanks to Ralph Nader, they would not let him. (read:"unsafe at any speed") Each car would go around the course alone and the best time would win. Jungleland went on to be entertainment even AFTER it was torn down and hauled away. Too bad there is no Historical marker there telling all about it's history. Well, if I think of anything else, I'll try to have it posted. Long live Jungleland!
- Patty Schneider of Thousand Oaks , Ca. on 2009-06-23 said:
- this is for Mr Allen years ago when your mother was working on her book she had borrowed some pictures from my family on jungleland and thousand oaks and we never got them all back whats the chance that you would be able to return them to us we would greatly appeciate having them since my father has pass away and my mother and the rest of my family would love to have our history for our kids and there kids! Hope you can help!
- Patty Schneider of Thousand Oaks, Ca. on 2009-06-22 said:
- I am so glad to here that Im not the only one left that feels the same way about jungleland! my father worked there for louie and for there import of animals as well, I to have great memories of my father bringing home lions , he would take us for walks around the neibhor hood. Chet is a close family friend as will was jungle jim, mabel stark and we called tony gentry tony the pony .there is so many great stories like when my dad helped put the hippo in our family friends pool for a publisity stunt and they couldnt get her out for a week And I would do the adds for them my sister and I. Or HAVING BREAKFAST WITH A BABY GORRILLA AT THE GOEBELS KITCHEN TABLE.! WE SHOULD ALL GET IN CONTACT ! I would love to meet you all Im sure we have met in the pass. My father was Peter Schneider. I have some of Mr Goebels things that He gave my family and I. And for the john strong circus I remmeber them as well one year my mom made all the costumes for them I guess it was like one big family back then. I happen to have some great pictures of jungle land as well as I got to meet some fantastic people.
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2009-06-10 said:
- Just saw Doug's entry. Been a while, Doug! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Neat that you stumbled upon this site. Got any good Jungleland stories? Add 'em! Of course nothing beats our Western United Stated National Park tour, eh? The Freak Brothers LIVE!
- Doug Aronson of Watsonville, CA on 2009-05-27 said:
- Oh my GOODNESS!
Jungleland....Dave...Chris...the Orlando's??? Shakey's????
People today just don't understand...the true meaning of growing up in small town....all but forgotten .......
- david allen of newbury park, ca. on 2009-05-25 said:
- I moved to Thousand Oaks with my family in 1964, when I was about 12. I left town and returned, a couple of times, still live in the the Conejo Valley. My mother was the historian for the city for several years, until she passed on in '88. She wrote a book about the early history of the Conejo Valley (now out of print). "The Conejo Valley--Old and New Frontiers" by Carol Bidwell, is another book about the area. A Canadian author wrote a historical novel loosely-based on the life of Jungleland's resident lady tiger trainer
Mabel Stark, called "The Final Confession of Mabel Stark". Supposedly Kate Winslet is to star in a movie based on this book (someday).
But the book that you HAVE to read, especially if you were a kid growing up in the Conejo Valley in the 50's and 60's, is "The Oaks", by author Rip Rense. A Google search will connect you to Rip and "The Oaks".
Glad to see all the memories from former Oakies.
- David B. Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2009-05-06 said:
- This isn't related to Jungleland, but I was hoping someone out there would know how to contact The Mad Attic thrift store in T.O. I remember the old store on Hillcrest Drive and see they have a new store on Skyline Drive. Have good old stories going back to the early '60's about the store. Opened in 1960. Contact me at email@example.com Thanks.
- Edward A. Granados of Sherman Oaks, California on 2009-03-21 said:
- Growing up in the valley and then having my aunt and uncle and cousins living in Thousand Oaks I remember Jungleland well. We would get to go and I always wanted to ride the elephant, having my orthodonist there right across the street from Jungleland I do remember one year when it caught fire. By the way my dentist was Dr. Levine who was in thousand Oaks for years, good memories..
- Mark Wood of Calabasas, california on 2009-03-11 said:
- If anyone is interested I just completed a lovely display of most of the JungleLand memorabilia that the Stagecoach Inn Museum in Newbury Park CA has. It will be open beginning this Wednesday, March 11, 2009. Have fun!
- Al Thomas of Sammamish, WA on 2009-03-02 said:
- What I never understood back when that black panther got away from Jungleland was that all of us at Meadows Elementary school were send home... walking!
I loved growing up in Thousand Oaks...
- DAVID FRUHLING of GOLD HILL, OREGON on 2009-02-28 said:
- Hello, Steve! I did not know if you remembered me. Never met up with you at Jungleland. I remember the "Monkey house" which was a small four room "house" with no outside walls. I think they were chimps. My Mom rolled up some spearming gum and tossed it to them. they chewed and pulled the gum out, stringing it. Drew a big crowd and laughs. The attendant came over, mad, and removed the gum. Remember the giant turtle? Cory and I rode the pits after they closed. Heard he's still around. Andy Doty, Dave Spaniol, Kieth Thomas etc. Heard Kieth had a construction co. in Utah from his sister Christy. Saw her in the hospital about '85 when I crashed my Harley. (broken foot). Jungleland was a good meeting place in the years after it closed and thanks to this site, still a good place to meet up. Thanks, Weird California!
- STEVEN JANSSEN on 2009-02-26 said:
- hello to david fruhling,yes its me "tall skinny steve janssen" its been such a long time since those days, remember all the crap at waverly school when they moved us park oaks students into waverly!! corey meade, rick hunnicut,rick zorry,and the list goes on..its amazing how you forget about all the people you hung with untill someone reminds you.. anyway stay cool david,i hope all is good your way. steven janssen
- Chris Marin of Manchester, Washingstoned on 2009-02-11 said:
- Yeah many of our Mom's would drop a group of us kid's off at Jungle Land for the day while they went shopping or to get us out of their hair. I remember that "Chucko the Clown" had a TV show which was filmed at Chucko's Party House at Jungle Land. Anyone remember that 6 Pepsi bottle caps were the price of admission to the Conejo Theater's Saturday afternoon matinee. Or hiking in La Branca?
- Joe Bfnl of Paramount Ranch, California on 2009-02-09 said:
- The Jungleland sign ended up at the entrance to the crew camp at the old renaissance Faire site out at the paramount ranch sometime in the late 70’s early 80’s. The name and the sign are a proud part of that era and live on in the memories of all who lived and partied there.
- David Fruhling of Gold Hill, Oregon on 2009-02-09 said:
- A couple more questions and comments. The names "Steve Janssen" and Nancy Schowengert sound familiar. I'm goint to have to look at my T.O.H.S. Yearbook (class of 1973) Does anyone remember the minibike races held in the field at Moorpark and Jannss Rd. during Conejo Valley Days? They were held there at least once. I won a neat little trophy (first place) in the "tire race". the "racers" would circle around a bunch of tires on the ground and if you got passed, you were eliminated. I passed everyone on the outside on Roger Mortensens Honda Trail 70. (a bit bigger than the rest of the bikes-so was I!) I kept the trophy and it started the famous "trophy wars" between Roger, his parents and me and my parents. My mom finally threw my beloved trophy away! funny stuff. We were all lucky to grow up in T.O. One of the lowest crime per capita towns in the U.S. Still judged one of the best cities to live. Too bad all the L.A. area people moved in and made a madhouse out of it. Traffic is incredible!
- Rosie of Montrose, Colorado on 2009-02-07 said:
- I find it sad that there really is no memorial to Jungleland. It really is a piece of California history and the movies. Alot of the animals were used in MGM's movies and by other studios. The only other movie studio to have a movie ranch was the Hal Roach Studios of the Laurel and Hardy and Little Rascals fame. They had a place in the San Fernando Valley known as the "Roach Ranch" where Dinah the mule and other animals used in their shorts lived. I don't think it was ever open to the public. But Jungleland was special. I will never forget going there as a 6 year old in 1953-54 on a school field trip. It was the first time I had ever seen exotic animals up close and there used to be a TV show called "Jungle Jim" that always showed a black panther as it was called. They had that panther in Jungleland when I was a kid and it was a thrill seeing it. Thousand Oaks in 1957, when we moved there was a far cry from what it is now. There was one school, Conejo Valley School. One gas station, a small grocery store where Ronald Reagan used to shop and a small variety store with a wooden floor. Anyone remember going to mass in the old movie theater? That was strange! After that mass was said in one of Petersen's old barns. Thousand Oaks of the 1950's was a marvelous place to grow up.
- George Fruhling Jr. of Centralia, WA on 2009-02-06 said:
- Shortly after Jungleland closed there was a story in the local paper about the dude that bought the hippo. He took it home in his 1 ton van. The hippo got spooked on the way. Almost caused the van to tip over.
When he got it home he discovered the thing ate a crate of lettuce a day! He couldn't afford to feed it.
After Jungleland closed it was fun to ride bikes in the empty swimming pool like enclosures. Today it would make a great skateboard park!
- DAVID FRUHLING of GOLD HILL, OR on 2009-02-06 said:
- KAYNE YOUNG asked about Big John Strong's circus. I remember a little traveling amusement park that would set up at Park Oaks Shopping Center. Also, one would set up in the field behind our house at the corner of Moorpark and Jannss(?) Rd. I think that was Strong's "circus". may be wrong. Nice website. saw Tammy Orlando's comments. I was in the same grade as her late sister, Toni. They lived about 5 houses down from us on Montgomery Rd. Sorry to hear about her passing, Tammy.
- DAVID FRUHLING of GOLD HILL, OREGON on 2009-02-05 said:
- I grew up in Thousand Oaks, 1957 to 1973, when I went in the army after high school (T.O.H.S.). I remember hearing the lions at night and we were about 3 miles away on Montgomvery Road. I went to the the animal auction one day. Don't remember what animals were auctioned off. Whenever the M.G.M. Lion roars at the beginning of a M.G.M. movie, remember that is "Leo" from Jungleland. Cory Meade and I rode our bicycles in the animal pits I believe about 1970 ish. Kind of sad it never got preserved. A very historical place in my opinion, what with the Hollywood animals calling it home along with Goebel's Wild Animal Farm just around the corner. Thousand Oaks was very rural when I got there. Now, it's very hectic. I was there in 1997. A Madhouse now.
- Brown, Lee of Sunland, CA on 2009-02-02 said:
- I never was able to visit Jungleland but I have a wonderful collection of old picture postcards that keep the memories of it alive for me. I have a shop in Sunland called ADVENTURE in POSTCARDS where vintage postcards are for sale.
- Laurie Post of delaware, OH on 2009-01-19 said:
- My family and I moved to Newbury Park in 1967. So I only remember the last few years of Jungle Land.
The memories are of visiting with my Brownie Troop.Also my next door neighbor Mr.Korda worked there and would sometimes bring home some of the smaller animals for a few days. I do remember John Strongs Circus. I went to NPHS with John Jr. He had a friend and fellow class mate that would put ice picks and nails up his nose for the circus.
I also can recall being able to ride my pony from Borchard Rd. to Cal. Lutheran and Wildwood Park and the Labranca. It's all built up now.
- Kayne Young of San Mateo, CA on 2009-01-04 said:
- I was born and raised in TO and remember Jungleland fondly. The most vivid memory I have is of watching a Chimp show where the trained challenged a young boy to see if he could eat a banana faster than the chimp. The chimp won because he ate it without peeling the fruit. I also remember the Shakeys pizza across the street and marching in the Canjeo Valley Days parade down main street and Canejo Elementary. Lots of memories including seeing the empty park from the 101 and missing the animals. Does anyone remember Big John Strong's circus?
- Scott of Marietta, GA on 2008-12-20 said:
- I lived in Westlake Village in 68 & 69 (2nd & 3rd grade). I too remember the last days of Jungle Land. My mom and I would frequently visit on weekday afternoons and literally be the only ones there. We also attended the auction when it closed. Like the previous post, I also remember the Shakeys Pizza across the street...
- Greg Stanford of Beverly Hills,CA, California on 2008-12-07 said:
- My family moved to Thousand Oaks in 1965 and Jungle Land was the destination for the annual "Gregory Day" in the years around 1968 or so.
I remember and have pictures of riding on the elephants and pictures of all the animals.
In the late 1970's the parking lot was a meeting point to find out where the good parties were being held on the Fri or Sat night.
Also across the street was Shakey's Pizza with their old B/W movies with Laurel & Hardy Harold Lloyd etc.
Good times indeed great memories over that 10 year period or so.
- Rosie of Montrose, Colorado on 2008-11-28 said:
- The first time I went to Jungleland was in 1953 or 54. We were living in Oxnard and my first grade class went there on a field trip. We eventually moved to 1000 Oaks in 1957. We lived on Montgomery Road in a house my folks built in a walnut grove near the Peterson Ranch. You could hear the lions roaring and the howler monkey screetching. My last trip to Jungleland was when I was 18 in 1966. They were filming "Where the Action Is" that day. Sonny and Cher were there and I remember thinking how ugly she was! The Bobby Fuller Four were there and he was so handsome and very nice. They were filmed with a young elephant who kept grabbing the guitar necks. I also recall a chimp chained to a tree which you could see from 101. The seemingly lack of care of the animals always saddened me...small cages, chains and incredible filth. But for a kid it was a great place to see exotic animals and the day of the auction I recall many people crying.
- tamara orlando of thousand oaks , ca on 2008-11-20 said:
- Nancy Sebern, wrote about riding horses with My sister "Toni Orlando", I am sorry to say toni passed away in 1993.
- Terry Allread of Chico, California on 2008-11-19 said:
- My mother & father, Arvel & Grace Allread, bought many animals from Louis Goebels between 1947 and 1951, as they built The Great Pan American Zoological Exposition that toured the fair circuit and then had a short run with their own circus, Robinson Bros, with an elephant they got from Louis, named Susie. Would love to hear from anyone who knew them in the day.
- Suzie Draganov of Orange, California on 2008-11-01 said:
- We moved from Canada to Thousand Oaks in the late 60's & lived across the street for Jungle Land. My brother & I would sneak in, to play almost everyday. I remember playing catch with an orangutan & befriending a chimp that was kept on a chain in a pit enclosure. I felt very sorry for it & spent a lot of time talking to it. One day it got loose while I was there and he ran to me for help when the keepers tried to catch him. It hid behind me & grabbed around the back of my knees & tried to use me as a shield. I was only 10 or 11 and not much bigger than him. When he realized I wasn't going to be much help he ran over and grabbed a bag of popcorn from a lady, ran up a tree and proceeded to pelt his keepers. I remember lots of incidence of animals getting loose as well. Once we found an ostrich in the field where we played baseball. Having been a life long animal lover I have many memories connected to Jungle Land.
- sheryl cross of Chatsworth, CA on 2008-10-13 said:
- I grew up with Jungleland and remember riding the elephant & giant tortise. Also, remember going there with my "Brownie" troop. My dad, Joe Cross, owned Joe's Tire Center on 1000 Oaks Blvd (in front of the back pastures of Jungleland and we had to watch out for spitting camels and other animals.) I was said to see it go.
- Janice Chandler of Cochise, AZ. on 2008-10-10 said:
- Both my parents worked at Jungleland My father Ray Chandler and My mom Thelma Chandler. I remember the first time i ever met and native american, his name was Chief and he took care of the big chimps. Mel Koontz with his lion Jackie. Him and My Dad worked together on Swiss Family Robinson in Trinidad before they worked for Jungleland. Chet Juskic,was mauled at the zoo. George Stevens came to the big barn to look at the camels for the Greatest Story Ever Told. Chucko the Clown, Jungle Jim, Arky Scott, Charlie and Madlyn Franks and Sonita The elephant. There is so Many Memories I will never forget. The big Oak Trees down Thousand Oaks Blvd. Lupe's Restaunt. Rt 66 was film there. Maria the Chimp, Echbob the orantan, so many animals I can Remeber them all. Tony and Margret Gentry, Roy Kabot, Parley Baer, Mabel Stark. As a child I was around some of the most famous animal trainers. Dr. Miller was the Vet. that use to come to the zoo all the time. We went swimming in the seal pool when it was buildt before they put the seals in. The bridge from the main office to the cafe. My dad was also a sign painter and he would paint Johnny Strongs Trucks every year. There is so many to name. My dad worked for Mr. Gobel until the 70's He did numerous movies and tv with the camels. When we were kids we would play Tarzan in the ditches for hours. There was Henry the Giraff in the front. I went to school at Conejo in TO and Timber in Newbury Park and Graduated from Newbury Park High in 1972. Then I went on the Road with Johnny Cline's Liberty Horses and Elephant. I had the honor to be taught to train dressage horse by Dorothy Herbert. It was a wonderful lifeand a great place to grow up.l I wish that the world was more like it was at that time.
- Kathryn B. of Thousand Oaks, California on 2008-09-14 said:
- I'm 18, and I'm working on my Gold Award (Girl Scouts) - on the history of Jungleland. I don't know if anyone will see this before I have to finish, but if so, and if you could post links to pictures or memories you have in as much detail as you can remember, I would really appreciate that..
- Sharon Slay of San Marcos on 2008-09-08 said:
- My family and I visisted Jungleland all through the 60's we have home movies of elephant rides lion and tiger shows and pictures of me sitting on a very large tortoise.What a shameful pic.We were so stupid back then.But we did enjoy our time there. Not so much the tortoise I'm thinkin. Still some good memories. Sharon Slay
- Kim Giroux Clifford on 2008-08-28 said:
- I remember J.L. like it was yesterday, hearing the lions and peacocks just down the street from my house, I went to Conejo school and defininately remember DYNAMITE the horse, my
friend Richard Trudell....and so much more!
- Frank of Bend, Oregon on 2008-08-25 said:
- JungleLand....just spent time with a few people reflecting on JungleLand. Each time I meet someone from S. California, who grew up in the 50's and 60's, I ask them if they ever heard of JungleLand...and boy, if they do, we go back and remember the good times. My mother owns a Dance Studio in Reseda, and we have her show every year on the Jungleland site at the Thousand Oaks Civic Performing Center. Loved going to JungleLand, the animals, the little houses we played in, the Monkey pit...it was an adventure I will never forget. Thanks Dad!!!!
- Rick Horton of Granada Hills, CA on 2008-08-25 said:
- My parents took myself and out of town visitors to Jungleland many times. If you google it, there are some pictures on page five, site is http://gorillasdontblog.blogspot.com/2007/09/jungleland-thousand-oaks-california.html.
Does anyone remeber the drinking fountains? It was a lion, and you had to stick your head in the lions mouth to get a drink.
- Marie Grube on 2008-08-21 said:
- Yes, I do have many vivid memories of Jungleland. I might be the last one still alive that was a part-owner at the time of Jungleland's closing. My late husband, Roy Kabat, was the head animal supervisor for all the animals used in the l967 movie, "Dr. Dolittle" starring Rex Harrison. We were well aware that Jungleland was past its prime but we and two other partners entered into a contract with a lease option to sell the land. For three years we worked seven days a week to keep Jungleland operational and had hoped to sell the land as a return on our investment. Now the sad thing is that at this time we had three cash offers to sell, but the city of Thousand Oaks would not give the potential buyers a bonified conditional use permit, which ended up that all of us involved lost everything. Jungleland had made the town of Thousand Oaks come alive and gave rise to many new businesses and propery values soared. Jungleland deserves to be at least recognized in the new civic center.
- Bary Rands of Arroyo Grande, CA on 2008-08-19 said:
- I was there when Zoltan (Jane Mansfield's son) was mauled. I was about 17 at the time... working the ticket booth for the Swan Boat and Mule Train Rides. Jane Mansfield and her son were being given VIP treatment... a personal guided tour of the park by my stepdad, Roy Kabat, who was general manager and part-owner of Jungleland. The entourage was walking through the old Tarzan Jungle area where they had chained up a couple young lions. I couldn't see what was going on because they were in the trees, but all of sudden there was shouting and one of the photographers came running out of the trees and shouted "Call an ambulance, Jane's son has been mauled!". I immediately grabbed my cash box, bolted out of the ticket booth and ran as fast as I could to the main office. Right in the middle of telling the receptionist to call an ambulance and catching my breath, I looked over my shoulder to see Roy running towards the office with a bleeding Zoltan in his arms. The lion had chewed up on his head pretty bad. They quickly decided to not wait for the ambulance and took the boy directly to the emergency room in Roy's car.
Later on, I heard how it all happened. While everyone was ogling Jane, her son got off by himself and was poking the lion with a stick he had picked up in the "jungle". The lion was chained to stake, but the chain was long enough for him to grab Zoltan and start doing what lion's do. Roy was the first to come to his rescue and pulled the kid out of the lion's grasp and carried him off to safety.
- Nancy Sebern of Cambria, CA on 2008-08-10 said:
- My family moved to Thousand Oaks in 1959 and Jungleland is a large part of my memory of that chance to grow up in a special town. I see that one of the comments here is from Tamara Orlando. I used to ride horses with Toni Orlando and need to try and look her up. Nancy Sebern (Schowengerdt)
- Karen Grattan of thousand oaks, ca on 2008-07-22 said:
- That sure brought up old memories.
I remember Jungleland as a teenager, but not the zoo days, I was just a baby . Every Sunday Girlfriends and myself would get all cute and go look for guys. They had bands, food and GUYS! It was an adventure everytime we girls went. Good old days!!
- Gayle Cain of Visalia, CA on 2008-07-15 said:
- I remember being told the story of a lion mauling Jayne Mansfield's son. My uncle was the attending physician at the time, and we all listened wide-eyed to the recounting of the incident.
- steve janssen of thousand oaks/rabbit valleyon 2008-07-15 said:
- having been in thousand oaks for nearly 50 years, i remember jungleland very well,, also remember my buddies and me having our own secret opening in the fence! free admission anytime we wanted!! it was probably only 25 cents to get in anyway.. but it made it so much more fun sneaking in!! i miss those childhood days.. we had such a big clan of buddies we had it made anywhere we went in t.o. and beleive me we went everywhere on those damn bicycles!! schwinn stringrays of course!! we were all the coolest dudes in town!!!
- Linda Heller of Dayton, NV. on 2008-06-21 said:
- I also lived in Conejo Valley,you oldies, remember that name. I got to work at Jungleland. What a life! Growing up with wild animals, animal trainers coming to dinner. I'm Proud to have been a part of all that. And I will take those memories to the grave, with a big smile. I'm also the girl, that made most of the kids growing up there in that wonerful old town ride my horse, DYNAMITE. Those were the days when, all the kids for miles around went to the same school, CONEJO ELEMENTARY. (I still have the year book.) My brother still lives in T.O. and carries some of the great memories also. It was a Great place to grow up. Movie stars, were always around, and I found them every chance I had. Growing up with Kurt Russell was kinda cool too! Yes People, there are some oldies left with great memories of what a great childhood was all about, and Jungleland was a BIG part of many lives. When I die, I hope heaven is just down the street from Jungleland. Linda Heller
- Sheri of formerly Thousand Oaks, Ca on 2008-06-20 said:
- I grew up in Thousand Oaks and have so may great memories of Jungleland- Thank you so much for the great reminder. I remember the transformation over time of Jungleland and even the giant parking lot-circus troops, minibike riders, once a craft faire flea market even I think used that site. I miss it still!
- Tara Wolf of Binghamton , NY on 2008-05-29 said:
- I grew up near JL, and knew Mel Koontz quite well. He was the lion trainer there. I am currently seeking pictures and other memorabilia for a scrapbook I am putting together for my grand children, any body out there have anything they can send me?
- John of Salt lake city, Utah on 2008-05-23 said:
- I barely remember thousand oaks Jungle land.I remember going there before it closed its doors. Also, later I remembered a Big John strong circus coming to town and using the old jungle land parking lot. Probably sometime in 1975. I used to ride mini bikes on the old parking lot in the 1970s. There should be some type of historical plaque about jungle lands history somewhere at the civic center.
- Tamara Orlando of Thousand oaks , ca on 2008-05-06 said:
- This is a great site ', I was born an still reside here . matter of fact My friends and I cleaned out those bowls as we called them back in the 70's i looked this up because I was watching an old tarzan movie the oak trees were un-mistakeable. jungleland threw all it's incarnations was a strange and magicalplace for children. thanks for the memories weird california.
- Randy "Chucko Jr." Runyon of Canyon Country, Ca on 2008-04-25 said:
- Chucko's Party House at Jungleland
http://www.chuckotheclown.com/happy.htm I have many pix from Jungleland that I would Love to share with you.I was there '65 to close in '69.I also performed on the Big Stage with my unicycle act.
aka The Wheeler Dealer
- Ernie of Hurricane, Utah on 2008-04-24 said:
- My Dad took me to Jungleland one day in 1960 when we lived in Mar Vista, CA (just south of Santa Monica). It was lots of fun and we met Mable Stark. Dad talked to her for several minutes and she autographed my picture postcard of her with a lion. (That would probably be worth big money now if I still had it, but alas, it disappeard years ago.)
At the park, Dad also bought me a miniature hand-held slide viewer, and some slides of Mable with the big cats. It seems there were also some photos of circus animal acts. It's too bad all these fun places are gone now, replaced by the huge, crowded parks.
- Rita Cerniglia of Ft Smith, Arkansas on 2008-04-05 said:
- I grew up in California, and I remember the elephant ride. I got to ride around on a huge elephant. I've got that picture somewhere.
- Dustin of Newbury Park, CA on 2008-01-23 said:
- I work as a bartender in NP, and a regular of fine had told me about a zoo over by the still standing Duparss. I told her being the internet savvy individual, told her I would look it up for her. What a interesting find! Wish it was still there!
- Debora Greene Lorang of Cascade Locks, OR on 2008-01-20 said:
- I grew up in Simi Valley, and loved to ride my bike out to Jungle Land. What a great childhood memory. I also hiked and hunted the Simi Hills with my brothers, we had heard of the Panther story as kids, but my fear was always of Rattle Snakes! Hi Mike!
- mike warpack of simi, ca on 2008-01-17 said:
- While hunting rabbits in the Simi Hills(on the old Montgomery Ranch property ) back in the 1960's, my sister and I were amazed and astonished by the sudden appearance of a black panther.This sighting occured after heavy rains had reportedly washed away soil from under the cages at Jungle Land.The panther was as startled as we were and vanished a second later. The poor thing probably died of hunger.
- Tam O'Connor Fraser of Scotts Valley, California on 2007-12-31 said:
- My Father performed with his lion act in the late 50's I was three or four at the time and have fond memories. I remember meeting Mabel Stark in the 60's, I was told that she had a fondness for me, which is interesting as I've heard that she didn't really care much for kids.
- Anita McReynolds of Parker, Colarado on 2007-03-27 said:
- I lived in Thousand oaks all my life untill recently I moved to Colorado.
I remember Jungleland as a kid we [use to] fall asleep to the sound of the lions roaring [and] monkeys chattering.
I remember when I was thirteen and we moved to upper TO (Thousand Oaks) closer to TOHS (Thousand Oaks High School).
It took me a long time to get use to not having the sounds of the wild animals. I remember Mable Stark who was the first women lion tamer in her time. JungleJim who also was an animal trainer.
How about when Tex got his foot chewed off by the tiger when he put his foot on the cage to talk to some lady.
I remember my sister working at JL at the elephant ride and I would get to ride free just to level out the ride for them.
My brother in law, mom, and dad worked for JL all their lives 'till it closed down when Tex got his foot chew off.
Oooo I'm sure I could tell more. but I gotta get going.
Thank for letting me remember some good and bad times in the land of Jungle hehe
- Anita McReynolds on 2007-03-27 said:
- Its me again.
Its a shame you dont have pictures of Jungleland or TO back in the day.
as for the panther. I remember when it got loose and we the kids had to stay inside I think for a day or two,
but I also remember that they shot the panther and killed it.
I'm thinking if you really wanted to know it still has to be in the newspaper at the Liberty.
Thank you for your time
- Anita McReynolds on 2007-03-27 said:
- another bit of info.
Jane Manfield famous back in the 60's well her son was mauled by a lion at Jungleland.
- Weird Hollywood (2010) by Oesterle, Joe, p: 218 - 219
- Southern California Curiosities (2004) by Rubin, Saul, p: 257
Last Edited: 2011-11-02