Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Protest Over Animal Rides at Larchmont Family Fair


Protest is building over the pony rides and other animal exhibits at the Larchmont Family Fair

Last month, Windsor Square resident Lee Goldberg sent a letter to the Larchmont Blvd. Association, organizer of the upcoming Larchmont Family Fair, urging them not to have live animal rides at the Fair. In her letter, Goldberg cited the treatment of the animals as inhumane, saying many of the businesses that provide animals to fairs are not licensed by the USDA or have permits; and there are safety risks to the community from bacteria, as well as trampling incidents when animals were spooked.  At the close of her letter, Goldberg wrote, “I strongly encourage you to cancel the petting zoos, camel rides, and any other exhibit in which live animals are being used exclusively for entertainment purposes. While I hope to reach an amicable and humane resolution to this matter, I am prepared to organize a peaceful protest at the fair should you choose not to cancel the events as advertised.”

Goldberg also posted her objections on the social media platform Nextdoor and linked to a petition she created to gather support for her demand to cancel the live animal rides at the fair. At the time of this posting, 444 people had signed the petition. There were 22 comments on the Nextdoor thread; 17 expressed agreement with Goldberg, two did not.

LBA president John Winther told the Buzz, “these are the most popular rides at the fair.  We have often to close it down the end of the fair because it’s so popular.”

Winther said he looked at the comments and thought they were mostly positive. He said he thought the animals seemed like they were well-cared for and that they were only at the fair for four hours.

“We just want to do what the community wants,” said Winther. “These rides are very popular. We see how much children enjoy interacting with the animals in the petting zoo and the pony rides are one of the most popular rides at the fair.”

LBA founder and former publisher of the Larchmont Chronicle Jane Gilman had no comment for the Buzz.

Goldberg, who grew up in the neighborhood and lives on Gower, contacted the Buzz because she had not gotten a reply from the LBA. A vegan who volunteers with a number of animal rescues, Goldberg said she hopes to get people to make the connection of how these animals are treated and what happens to them after they cannot work anymore.  She volunteers with the Rocky Ridge Rescue which saves small ponies and horses from livestock auctions and shelters.  Goldberg is working with various animals rescues to offer an animal adoption exhibit instead. She asserts that’s a more positive interaction for children rather than seeing someone make money displaying animals.

“These animal exhibits are not consistent with today’s values,” said Goldberg.

When Goldberg was at the fair last year, she said she observed harsh treatment of one of the camels and decided she would do something make sure it didn’t happen again this year. Once she saw the advertisement in the Larchmont Chronicle promoting the fair and the animal exhibits, she decided to write the letter and start the petition drive.

Goldberg is hopeful the LBA will cancel the animal exhibits this year but if they don’t, she’s making plans for a protest.

 This story has been updated.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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  1. I think Goldberg is over reacting. I suspect that if these animals cannot be used for community fairs that they will be destroyed. Has she any plans as how to stop that if she prevails?

    • Good point. How anyone could even think of destroying this sweet one day yearly tradition is beyond me. My children as well as thousands of children before them and afterwards have enjoyed this tradition and so have their parents seeing the joy in their children’s eyes. Ms. Goldberg, please take your energy and need to change things to a more needier and worthwhile venue so that area parents can enjoy their festival day off with their children.

  2. These animals, like so many in just about every industry, are treated as commodities. As a mom and an animal lover, it is incredibly unnecessary to me to have a forced animal ride to make my kiddo happy when there are plenty of other ways to do so. As I am teaching my daughter that all life is important, I believe this is an incredibly vital cause, and I appreciate and have deep reverence for those who are speaking up. With the protest, there is the opportunity for children to be taught that the well being of these animals matter, not the bottom line of a buck.

  3. We should also ban all sale of meat-based products at any local event because it involves the imprisonment, torture and murder of perfectly innocent animals. While we are it, no one wearing leather shoes or garments should be allowed to attend – there has been an on-going animal genocide for over 150,000 years so that men could have these unnecessary luxuries. The wearing of wool should also be restricted as sheep’s freedom is impaired by their owners and they are traumatised regularly when being sheered. We should also cease all consumption of Honey at the event, as its extraction from the hive traumatises the hives’ inhabitants on a systematic basis. Just because bees are very small doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Furthermore, I disapprove of the sale at these events of food that uses ingredients cultivated with the help of of human-assembled chemicals that protect the crops and make them grow faster. I know that this helps feed billions of humans who would otherwise die of malnutrition or famine-driven wars, but this interference with nature impinges on the rights of other organisms that are trying to survive without chemical additives and artificial human interventions in the natural growth of plant life. It’s also morally unacceptable as it robs otherwise happy, wild grazing animals from having access to their natural habitat due to the over-farming of land.

    • Joyless is right. Comical fake name. Bang on with your sarcasm that proves nothing more that you don’t seem to like change. I eat meat and don’t think these animals should be there. It does exist.

    • Monsanto seems to have had an effect on you. Please continue chugging the kool-aid as you really don’t have a grasp on the subject.

  4. There are hundreds of horse rescues that have rescued retired “pony ride” ponies from the slaughter I auction. I have personally rescued one from the slaughter auction, after a “kill buyer” from Mexico purchased her to take home and slaughter. Were any of you aware that this even existed? Does it matter to you that these exhibits routinely violate USDA laws prohibiting certain forms of cruelty these animals? Are any of you aware of the health dangers posed to people – particularly children – by petting zoos? I suspect not. Please do your homework.

  5. Evidently at least 444 others agree with what Ms.Goldberg had to say. I stand firmly with her and plan to attend the peaceful protest that will happen in the event the pet fair goes forward as planned. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention.

    this is not a humane way to teach children about having respect and compassion for animals. Animals are not here so he for entertainment and there are better ways to make the connection between animals and humans. This is an outdated and quite frankly cruel event that should be canceled. Shame on Larchmont.

  7. To Richard Battaglia and wdannevi — tradition is no way to justify archaic practices. I grew up walking through petting zoos, but can’t say I learned about humane treatment or care of animals from this experience. That came when I realized how most commodity or entertainment animals are really treated. Petting zoo animals are subjected to performing on hot asphalt roads and stressful hour after hour interactions with young children. Then they are loaded up and shipped off to the next torture session. And when they are used up, they are sent to slaughter or worse. A lucky few are rescued. If parents want their children to interact with animals, there are plenty of local rescue organizations that host visitations like the one Ms. Goldberg volunteers with. Every rescue group dreams of the day they can shut down because there are no animals in need. Please educate yourself as to the cause and effect. Thank you and brava for this step toward a kinder world for the next generation and beyond!

  8. Treat your kids to an ice cream or a fun ride at the fair! Teach them that animals are our friends and deserve our respect. This is an antiquidated, humiliating and cruel form of entertainment. What a sad life for these animals. And if you’re concerned about your kids “missing out” on tradition, start some new ones. It’d be great for our kids to look back on old photos of events like these and say, “did people really do that?” Let’s end it here. We can do better, Hancock Park!

  9. Lee Goldberg has my unwavering support. She is an asset to her community. I grew up in Windsor Square and still live in Los Angeles. My family was a fixture at the Larchmont Fair for decades, taking home numerous awards for home-made costumes (thank you, Marilyn Thomas!). I can’t even remember if they used to have animal rides so I don’t think anyone’s kids will truly miss them that much. Furthermore, there are several places where you can take your kid to see wildlife in Los Angeles. Check the internet and put some effort into it. No way I will take my kids to the fair until this “tradition” stops.

  10. I grew up going to the Larchmont Fair…what a wonderful tradition. I remember zero petting zoos. And zero camel rides. Did these even happen? But the truth is…I don’t care what happened last year or even 10 years ago. We know better now. If we cannot evolve our ideas and believe our kids cannot be entertained without hurting an animal…then shame on us. Imagine all of the other horrible things that would be going on in the world if people said…sorry…that’s tradition. Bring puppies, kittens and rabbits that are up for adoption if people want their kids to interact with animals. If you want your child to ride a horse…get them a lesson where you know they are being treated properly. I think the organizers and parents can come up with an alternate solution to entertaining the masses.

  11. I have nothing but respect for Lee Goldberg and know she is someone who walks the walk…There is no reason we have to use animals in this way to entertain ourselves or our children. I grew up going to the circus and when I had children I took them…That is until I woke up and realized what I was actually doing. I would never purchase a pet nor would I go somewhere that uses animals as they are being used here… Nobody is overreacting. We are just being sensitive and trying to stop the human selfishness at the expense of animals.

  12. Traveling petting zoos abuse animals for entertainment and a quick buck. These zoos may only be open for business at this location for a few hours, but they operate year round. Animals are subjected to strangers and often without supervision in a tiny area where animals cannot escape the crowds. It’s 2016 and time to evolve and stop the exploitation of all beings.


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