Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Animal Advocates Report About Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo by Mary Cummins

griffith park pony rides, petting zoo, animal advocates, mary cummins, los angeles, california, griffith park, pony rides, neglect, overgrown hooves, city, parks, recreation
griffith park pony rides, petting zoo, animal advocates, mary cummins, los angeles, california, griffith park, pony rides, neglect, overgrown hooves, city, parks, recreation

UPDATE: 01/09/2023 "Historic Structures at Griffith Park may Hamper City Plans"

No, they won't. Whenever a historic structure was in the way of new development plans the city just moves the building. There's a historic building on USC campus that has been moved four times because of development. The city does the same. A structure doesn't have to stay on the land and be used for original purpose. Such idiots.

01/08/2023 The pony ride equipment is up for sale. The original post was removed but here's a screenshot. 

12/17/2022 There will be a protest for and against the pony rides tomorrow, Sunday, December 18, 2022 from 11-2:00 pm at the pony rides. It'll probably be the last big protest before they close 12/21. 

In the meantime Steve Weeks and some of his supporters have been lying to the press. Weeks said it is "the best run pony ride in the nation." :-D I inspected the pony ride. It most certainly is not. See my report below. One of his supporters said "the pony ride is for poor and disabled people." False. You have to pay for a short pony ride not to mention the cost of getting there. There are no facilities for disabled people to ride the ponies. "Mr Griffith donated the park with the express intent it be used for pony rides." Griffith J Griffith donated the park in 1896. No mention of pony rides. I could go on and on with more falsehoods but why.

12/11/22 "In a memo to the department on Dec. 6, 2022, Recreation and Parks General Manager Kim denied that animal rights protests at the pony ride location — and at the homes of L.A. city employees and the homes of the operator’s family  —  influenced the city to pull the plug."

Kim cited Sachar’s report, saying two ponies died in March, one in April and one in August but the city was not notified of their deaths until Sachar’s report in September. The delay in reporting the deaths to the city — in one case six months — was the main reason the city closed the pony rides, he said.

12/10/22 Steve Weeks stated he offered to give the pony ride concession, all animals, equipment to another operator for free. Parks & Rec declined his offer. This shows it's not this specific operator that is the problem but pony rides in general. 

Ponies being bought from Steve Weeks and rehomed already.

12/08/22 This article goes into the reason why the City ended the pony rides. Seems there was a new veterinarian inspection and report made to the City, see linked below. Interesting it was done right before the contract renewal date. Makes sense. 

Below is the veterinary report.

12/07/22 There will be a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting December 15, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. about the pony rides. No other information provided as yet. 

Four ponies allegedly died within the last year. City wasn't notified timely allegedly. There is some veterinarian report about it maybe but I haven't seen it as of yet. I'll post it when I find it. In the meantime here is a veterinarian report from Dr Rachel Sachars DVM CVA February 2021. Here is a summary, "Dr. Sachar’s report identified various issues requiring immediate attention as well as other areas for ongoing improvement. Most notably, some ponies were in need of veterinary care for saddle sores, farrier care, or dental care. Additionally, violations of California Health and Safety Codes were found associated with animal identification protocols and record keeping, as well as fence enclosure disrepair." 

12/06/22 Steve Weeks has already sold all the ponies allegedly to appropriate horse owning homes. Only three "green" ponies that are not meant to be ridden by children are left. You can still inquire about those ponies. I have no idea if they are Griffith Park Pony Ride ponies or not. I saw many experienced horse owners step forward to offer homes to the ponies on Facebook. They appear to all been spoken for within 24 hours. 

ORIGINAL: 12/04/22 The City of Los Angeles has finally decided not to renew Steve Weeks' contract for the Griffith Park Pony Rides. It terminates December 21, 2022. The city's decision was the result of many concerns beyond protests and complaints by animal rights activists. The City of Los Angeles has gotten away from cruel practices against animals on its properties and under its jurisdiction within the last 25 years. This is evidenced by changes at the animal shelters, zoos, circus permits, animals in entertainment permits, rodeo permits... 

2021 the City stated it had received years of complaints and wanted to get away from using ponies for entertainment. This was before the recent protests by animal activists. From a final October 2022 Motion,

"The concession agreement with the current operator of the Pony Rides is set to expire on
December 22, 2022, with the option of renewing for another year. While the decision to extend
this contract falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Recreation and Parks and does not
need approval from the City Council, at this time, we do not believe the City of Los Angeles can
in good faith move forward with the extension of this contract without understanding the
implications this will have on the health and well-being of the ponies and without considering a
new path forward that does not include the continued use of these ponies for entertainment."

The City had wanted to entertain other opportunities at Griffith Park for the community. Many cities like Santa Monica got rid of their pony rides and petting zoos. Instead they offer family friendly educational entertainment that is available to everyone. The Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo were not cheap. Parties also had to pay to have events on the property. 

Notice from the city about the closure,

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

Steve Weeks statement about the closure: 

It is with much sadness that I announce that Griffith Park Pony Rides will be ceasing operations December 21, 2022. I have received a letter from Los Angeles Recreation and Parks stating that our contract will not be renewed. After 74 years serving the children and parents of Los Angeles, this iconic institution will be closed forever by order of the City. 
You have all followed our fight against these few radical animal rights activists. Despite our year long fight to answer the untrue statements of these individuals, our efforts were not heard. This was the city decision and not the pony rides choice. I will post more at a later date giving greater details. I just wanted you to hear the news from me. This group has been loyal friends of the pony rides and i thank you.  In the days ahead I will be attempting to find forever homes for our many ponies. I am determined to find homes for our ponies with qualified horsepeople who will care as much about our ponies as I do. If you are interested in provding a home please message me. More to come.
Steve Weeks" This is Steve Weeks' email if you are interested in one of the ponies

Weeks buds are stating this has to do with money. They think someone bribed a council member so they could have the space for a wealthy person on the east coast to do "touristy" things. Other Weeks buds are saying two council members are vegans so that's why they are against pony rides. Still others said this was the work of PETA. Weeks buds think they are coming after all horse owners to make horse ownership, riding illegal. The real reason is exactly what the city stated. Even before protesters were involved the city wanted to get away from using animals for entertainment. That's why the city got rid of elephants in circuses, animal circus permits, rodeo permits...

FTR Steve Weeks is the more recent owner of the contract since 2016 I believe. There have been many problems at the pony rides over many years since it first opened in 1948. 

February 2022 assessment by third party horse veterinarian ordered by city found problems.

2016 City contract for the pony rides.

Below is a fair and privileged report by Animal Advocates about the Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo made to government agency the City of Los Angeles and other government agencies. These are just a few of the concerns. None of them are the reason they closed the pony rides. City just doesn't want to be involved in animals as entertainment.

Mary Cummins
Animal Advocates Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
645 W 9th St #110140
Los Angeles, CA 90015


May 30, 2022

City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
221 N Figueroa Street Suite 350
Los Angeles, CA 90012

RE: Griffith Park Pony Rides & Petting Zoo

I'm Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. I've been involved in animal issues for over 35 years in Los Angeles. I've gone through the Police Academy and Humane Academy to become a Humane Officer and investigate animal cruelty and violations. I've worked positively with the City of Los Angeles for over 20 years including on the Prop F Committee and getting the current Los Angeles Animal Services Wildlife Policy passed in 2004 (Ref. 1).

May 29, 2022 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I visited the Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo (GPPR). The following is a report of my visit and a summary of my research including attached/linked photos, videos and references.

1. Petting Zoo

a. Sheep

The sheep's hooves were overgrown and needed trimming (Photo 1, 2). This is link to overgrown (left) and properly trimmed (right) hooves . His coat needed to be cleaned because he had feces matted to his wool. His coat needed to be sheared. This is a photo of Larry the same sheep from the official website of the GPPR. You can see that Larry is clean, shorn and his hooves are properly trimmed. This shows that the owner knows how to care for sheep but has chosen not to give proper care. There are photos of children hugging animals with their faces touching the animals in GPPR’s which is why they must be clean. This is a violation of California Penal Code 597, not providing proper veterinary and other care (Ref. 2). Also a violation of the Animal Welfare Act because these are exhibit animals under USDA permit Cert # 93-C-1163 Cust #502682 (Ref. 3).

b. Goats

The goats' hooves were overgrown and needed to be trimmed (Photo 3). Violation of CA 597 and AWA.

c. Rabbits

The rabbits' water bottle was empty. I asked the staff to refill the water bottle. They removed the totally empty bottle and refilled it (Photo 4). As soon as they did all three rabbits quickly drank water which means they were dehydrated. Violation of CA 597 and AWA.

d. Lack of Zoonotic Disease Control, Handwashing Stations

The item of greatest concern in the petting zoo and pony rides was the lack of concern for zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are passed from animals to humans such as SARS-CoV-2, plague, West Nile and rabies. Every year children are sickened from touching animals in petting zoos, pony rides with some children dying (Ref. 4). Petting zoo animals can carry E. coli, Cryptosporodium, Salmonella, ring worm and more. Humans can contract the diseases by hand feeding animals, petting animals, touching the fence rails, sitting on something the animals touched, the ground...

The California Department of Food and Agriculture offers hand washing information and signs for places such as county fairs when one would encounter agricultural animals (Ref. 5).

There should be warning signs at the entrance and exit of the petting zoo along with handwashing instructions and stations. Everyone who enters the petting zoo or even just touches the fencing must wash their hands. Children were hugging the sheep with feces on its coat. They were feeding the animals out of their hands. They were given brushes to brush the animals. The animals were licking the children. These same children will walk a few feet away and eat food with their hands. Many states have Hand Sanitation Laws for animal contact for these reasons (Ref. 6).

Food, drink, baby pacifiers, baby bottles, strollers, wagons should not be allowed in the petting zoo area. They were allowed in that area. Here is a sign from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (Ref. 7).

The City is exposing itself to lawsuits from sick and dying children besides harming its public image. Violation of the Health & Safety Code.

e. Animals in and Near the Food Preparation, Dining Areas

A staff member had two goats on leashes in the food preparation and dining areas,    . This photo came from the GPPR website. These people even had a non-service dog. I witnessed the exact same. The three pony corrals are too close to the multiple food prep and dining areas. Animals can't be within at least 20 feet at the minimum of food prep or dining areas per California Food Safety and Health Codes.

Violation of California Retail Food Code, Sections: 114259, 114259.1, 114259.4, 114259.5 no animals are allowed in food preparation or dining areas except some service dogs, patrol dogs and pet dogs in certain situations (Ref. 8). California Civil Service Code, Section 54.1, 54.25 covers these exceptions (Ref. 9). Weeks has no experience operating a business which preps and serves food.

The issue is again zoonotic diseases. Children pet a goat, pony then eat food with their hands which could transfer disease. It's very possible that many children have already been sickened but their parents assumed it came from the food and not the animals. In cases where many people were sickened investigations revealed the exact cause of the infections and knew it was the petting zoo and not the food.

2. Pony Rides

a. Algae, Scum in Water Troughs

Algae were visible in all of the horse water troughs, (Photo 5). Violation of 597 for not providing proper care, not providing potable water.

b. Loud Noises Used to Scare Ponies to Run

The staff members told the children not to yell or scream at the ponies. Then the staff members ran behind the ponies and made loud clapping sounds that sounded like a whip being cracked in order to get the ponies to run. They also yelled and made other loud noises at the animals. The staff did this every time they wanted the ponies to run. This is harassment and cruel treatment which is a violation of CA 597. I have many more videos and photos. Video:

c. Ponies too Close to Food Preparation, Dining Areas

There are four pony corrals, one large one which is the main track, one small carousel and two smaller ones called Party Corrals which are generally rented out for birthday parties, see GPPR website. They offer the Party Corrals with cooking area, picnic tables and ponies. Again, animals can't be within 20 feet of food prep or dining. The animals are directly next to the food prep and dining areas (Photo 6).

The main corral is within 20 feet of the food prep, dining area of a Party Corral. People were seen eating and drinking right next to the small carousel. There are two small corrals in the two Party Corrals which have food prep and dining. I witnessed ponies in the two Party Corrals. The goats are defecating in the food prep, dining area. The ponies defecate in the Party Corrals. Violation of Health & Safety Codes.

3. Stephen "Steve" Allen Weeks, Los Angeles Pony Rides Inc, Traditional Equitation School, The Loan Consultants Inc.

Per the 2016 Request for Proposals For the Operation and Maintenance of the GRIFFITH PARK PONY RIDE CONCESSION "Mr. Stephen Weeks, owner of Los Angeles Pony Rides, Inc., has twenty-two (22) years of experience in the horse and pony business. For the past six (6) years (since 2010), he has owned the Traditional Equitation School (TES) and developed a pony ride and lesson program serving children as young as four (4)." This statement does not appear to be true.

Stephen Allen Weeks controls Los Angeles Pony Rides Inc. an active California corporation # 3867428 (Ref. 10). Weeks is the CEO, CFO, Secretary and Director.

Traditional Equitation School was a California corporation # 1302280 which was terminated in 2012. Weeks is not the current owner. He owned it 2010-2017. The business claims "TES is the oldest and largest continually operating horseback riding school in Los Angeles." TES was established in 1979 at Bell Canyon Equestrian Center in Canoga Park, California, by Patricia Kinnaman and the late Lilian Van Dahn. TES moved to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in 1986. The TES programs did not change from the ownership by Kinnaman to Weeks. They offered horses and no ponies to children. The minimum age was six not four.*/ In 2017 it was sold to Tori English a movie editor. In a 2020 lawsuit an employee claimed the horses were unfit and unsafe to ride. Weeks history appears to include owning and breeding race horses.

Stephen Weeks owns The Loan Consultants Inc California corporation 1163479 which was suspended by FTB. The business claims to be "The Oldest and Largest Loan Affiliate Program in the World." They offer a two day class to become a loan broker for about $13,800. They don't bother to tell students you actually need a license. Based on the complaints I personally believe the school is akin to Trump University.

Weeks stated he was the founder of Sterling Bank of Beverly Hills. That does not match up with records. Earlier when he ran for political office he stated he was merely a shareholder. Weeks stated he ran two other “successful” finance corporations, Weeks & Associates, Century Capital Corp. Century is suspended. I can find no Department of Real Estate licenses for Weeks or his businesses. You need a license to be a loan agent.

Issues of greatest concern are the multiple personal injury lawsuits against Los Angeles Pony Rides, Griffith Park Pony Rides (under Weeks) and Traditional Equitation School. It appears children were injured and sued the companies. The Defendants appear to have settled then the Plaintiffs dismissed the cases which is normal protocol in PI cases. The Loan Consultants and Stephen Weeks were also sued. There is a restraining order granted against a Stephen A. Weeks which I believe is Weeks. I will be going to the courthouse to get the full record to be certain as it’s not available online unlike the others. Below are a few of those cases taken from Los Angeles County Superior Court .

WEEKS STEPHEN A.         Civil Harassment (Unlimited)      06/20/2012         Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley Courthouse                Case Number:  MS008721 SAMUEL NAVARRO VS STEPHEN A. WEEKS
Plaintiff Navarro got a restraining order on a Stephen A Weeks.


WEEKS STEPHEN A.         Other Compl-not Tort or Complex (Unlimited)   03/07/1996         Stanley Mosk Courthouse Case Number:  BC145770 ENRICO P. TUVERA, ET AL VS THE LOAN CONSULTANTS, INC., ET AL

LOS ANGELES PONY RIDES INC., GRIFFITH PARK PONY RIDES       Civil (Limited)     08/12/2019         Spring Street Courthouse Case Number:  19STLC07449 KOURTNEY HOLMES, ET AL. VS LOS ANGELES PONY RIDES, INC. Case Type:  Other Personal Injury/Property Damage/Wrongful Death (Limited Jurisdiction) Case Number:  20STCV13934. A seven year old girl who’d never ridden a pony or horse previously was riding a fast pony in the Griffith Park corral on her birthday. The corral fence collapsed which startled the pony causing the pony to rear up and the girl fell off. Her foot was stuck in the stirrup so she was dragged upside down around the track on the ground while the pony continued to run. The staff had to chase down the pony then they took a while to get her untangled from the pony while she screamed. Witnesses were also screaming. Case was settled. I can provide a copy of the complaint, answer and settlement order.

TRADITIONAL EQUITATION SCHOOL        Other Employment Complaint Case (Unlimited)                04/09/2020         Stanley Mosk Courthouse            26 Case #20STCV13934 TES is allegedly the DBA for Tori’s Equitation School who is Victoria English. They board horses, give riding lessons. Employee Kelly Fielding sued for multiple labor law violations. I can provide a copy of the complaint and answer.

TRADITIONAL EQUITATION SCHOOL        Other Personal Injury/Property Damage/Wrongful Death (Unlimited)    07/19/2006                Burbank Courthouse     

TRADITIONAL EQUITATION SCHOOL        Other PI/PD/WD (Unlimited)      07/19/2006         Glendale Courthouse    

TRADITIONAL EQUITATION SCHOOL        Other Personal Injury/Property Damage/Wrongful Death (Unlimited)    02/17/2004                Stanley Mosk Courthouse           

TRADITIONAL EQUITATION SCHOOL        Other PI/PD/WD (Unlimited)      02/17/2004         Burbank Courthouse     

TRADITIONAL EQUITATION SCHOOL        PI Other -DO NOT USE (Unlimited)           04/28/1995         Burbank Courthouse     

TRADITIONAL EQUITATION SCHOOL        Other PI/PD/WD (Unlimited)      05/15/1991         Burbank Courthouse

Some of the lawsuits against TES may be from before or after Stephen Weeks owned the business.

Weeks has a history in Los Angeles. He ran for City Controller in 1981 against James Hahn and lost by a wide margin. He ran for County Tax Assessor in 1982 and again lost. During those campaigns he made false accusations against his opponents. Recently Steve Weeks posted on Facebook “These militant animal rights protesters are lying to the public about the welfare of our ponies to promote their own agenda of eliminating horse ownership.” “These are militant protesters, many of which are being paid to picket us.” “The Park Rangers and LAPD often cite and arrest these people.” “ALL HORSE OWNERS in Los Angeles County face an imminent threat. A small group of the most radical animal rights activists are picketing and protesting weekly at the pony rides. They belive that to own or ride a horse is slavery. That no horse should be owned or ridden.” “The pony rides are  just the protesters first step. They could soon be at any training barn or boarding facility trying to ban even private horse ownership and riding.”

The protesters are not being paid. They aren’t trying to eliminate horse ownership or horse riding. Weeks is clearly trying to incite horse owners against protesters for his own business agenda of making money.

Based on my inspection and research I don't believe that Stephen Weeks is the best candidate to run the Griffith Park Pony Rides and Petting Zoo. He has not been honest with the Commission. I feel there are other activities that could be offered in the park which would not be cruel to animals, would not be a danger to public health and safety, would not harm the City’s public image, would be more beneficial to children and the citizens of Los Angeles while still providing income to the City.


Mary Cummins
Mary at
Animal Advocates Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

cc: County of Los Angeles Public Health
USDA Inspector for Petting Zoo permit
California Department of Food and Agriculture,,,,,,,,,,,,


1.       Curriculum Vitae Mary Cummins


2.        CA Penal Code 597


3.       Animal Welfare Act


4.       Articles: Children and Diseases from Petting Zoos
2019 Child Dies from San Diego County Fair Animal
Food Safety News, The Petting Zoo Problem
CDC: Stay Healthy at Animal Exhibits
Can People Get Sick from Going to Petting Zoos? Yes.
WebMD: Kids & Petting Zoos


5.       California Department of Food & Agriculture, Animals and Human Safety


6.       Center for Disease Control, Animal Sanitation

7.       California Department of Food & Agriculture, Animal Fairs, Handwashing Signs

8.       California Retail Food Code, Sections: 114259

9.       California Civil Service Code, Section 54.1


10.   California Corporation Search



See pdf above







Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

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