Jungleland of Thousand Oaks
Jungleland started as a small six lion farm.
Eventually occupying 170 acres, Thousand Oaks residents would come to
enjoy the distant evening roars of lions waiting for their dinner.
The Stagecoach Inn Museum pays tribute to Jungleland with donated and loaned artifacts.
History of Jungleland.....
The lion farm, known as Goebel's Lion Farm, was started in 1926 with
six lions purchased from a discontinued zoo owned by Universal Studios.
Founder, Louis Goebel, unable to find land suitable in LA County to keep his animals, travelled north to a small open area known as the Conejo Valley. He purchased the land and eventually opened his farm to the public in the late1920's.
Mabel Stark, famed Lady Lion Tamer, was indeed a main attraction at the park. Her tigers always received much appreciative applause by the audience during the shows held within massive steel cages. This image of Mabel and Mae West was taken on location when Mabel doubled for Mae in "I'm No Angel" filmed in 1933.
Elephant rides, tortoise rides, and even mechanical rides became past time favorites of visiting children from all over California.
Water fountains shaped as lions and hippos inviting you to lower your head within their gaping jaws for a refreshing drink of water.
A train ride
for children was also popular.
would board the tram bus for a guided wild
safari throughout the park while the driver shared all the assorted
stories of the animals he passed. In later years a Sky-Tram was also
introduced for guests to ride above the animal enclosures for
"bird's-eye" view of the grandeurs of Jungleland.
Over the years Jungleland had acquired many more animals than just lions. Elephants, lions, tigers, hippos, camels, llamas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and whole assortment of other animals, were all on display to entertain the crowds.
Many of the animals at Jungleland were best known through their acting careers in Hollywood.
This image shows Louis Goebel with Leo the Lion.
Some of the Jungleland animals that were well known include Leo, the MGM Lion, the talking horse, and Bimbo, the elephant from popular Circus Boy television show.
This image shows trainer Mel Koontz with Jackie the lion - MGM's
"Jungle Jim" starring Tamba (Peggy) the Chimpanzee. was also a popular show of the time utilizing the acting talents of Jungleland's family of furry and not so furry inhabitants.
A great assortment of the animals were also used in the 1968 movie "Doctor Doolittle" starring Rex Harrison.
Many Hollywood producers also used Jungleland for the filming backdrops of many movies.Scenes from "Birth of a Nation," "Tarzan," and "The Adventures of Robin Hood" are some of the movies filmed here.
Goebel being an importer and exporter of wild animals, helped to provide many other zoos with animals, including the first zoo in Hawaii.
Louis Goebel leased animals to circuses, and providing winter quarters for circus performers and their animals over the years.
The business was sold in 1946 to Trader Horne and Billy Richards, who renamed the establishment "World Jungle Compound".
In 1956 the business was sold again, this time to two executives of 20th Century Fox Studio, James Ruman and Sid Rogel, and they renamed the park "Jungleland" in hopes of creating a "Disneyland with live animals".
With ownership changing many times over the years, Louis Goebel once again regained possession of the business in foreclosure actions in 1961. He retained the name of Jungleland and kept the park open with the help of Gerda and Heinz Ruhe.
Four years later in, 1965, the Goebels sold their interests in Jungleland to partners Roy Kabat and T.M. Scarbrough.
In 1968 it became evident that the end was near. The park was having difficulties keeping the visitor count high enough to survive with the heavy competition brought on by new amusement parks such as Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Universal Studios. They were all offering bigger and more exciting rides and entertainment.
It closed in October, 1969 and the 1800 animals were sold at auction. A hippo sold for $450, a llama $195, a macaw $1800, a tortoise $2500, a tiger $750, a lion $600, and an orangutan and his mate for $20,000. It was the end of a great era of wild animals in the Conejo Valley.
For many years the Jungleland property sat unoccupied, still owned by Louis and Kathleen Goebel. The property, however, was far from being abandoned.
It became a popular skate board park for the children of Thousand Oaks, utilizing all of the empty pools for skate board pits. It also became a venue for informal concerts labeled "Jungleland Jamborees".
The new inhabitants of the former animal park renamed the property (appropriately) "Jungleland Wastelands". You can visit the "Jungleland Skates" website for more on the skate board era.
In 1979, Louis Goebel sold the remaining 20 acres of Jungleland property to others who wished to develop the site. They were unsuccessful. It was eventually purchased by the City of Thousand Oaks for the construction the Civic Arts Plaza which opened in 1994.
A 1968 music video, back then referred to as a TV Music Show, was filmed at Jungleland. The performer was "Keith" and his song "98.6". Found at "YouTube", the video shows a sweeping panoramic shot of the Jungleland Park. This is one of the few known remaining films of Jungleland.
Little remains of the physical remnants of Jungleland, but the memories imbedded in many residents of Thousand Oaks and the many visitors to the park will continue on through stories and family photographs, as well as remaining in the history of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Valley forever.
Please visit our Information Links page for links to more information on Jungleland.