History - The Decline
Unfortunately, Goebel could
not keep up with the growing popularity of larger scale amusements parks --
like Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens --
which were sprouting up all over Southern California. So business declined
sharply in the mid-1960s.
Some say that the nail in the coffin of Jungleland was
Mansfield held a birthday party for her 6 year old son, "Zoltan"
at the park. Zoltan was mauled by a lion that day. The truth is that while the
attack did slow business for awhile, the park was already struggling to stay
open and would have closed regardless.
(Zoltan did survive the attack and Mansfield later credited his recovery to a
theatrical ritual performed by Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey, atop Mt.
Tamalpais in Mill Valley, CA. Further reading on the subject can be
The final owners and the last days - In approx. 1965 Jungleland changed
hands and the new owners would continue to run the park until the final days.
Marie Grube (one of the new owners) recounts the events...."I believe it
was in l965 that Roy Kabat, Marie Kabat (now Marie Grube ), John Janelli Sr.,
Tex and Ina Scarbrough entered into a legal agreement with Louis Goebel for a
lease with an option to buy Jungleland. We took over the complete operation of
the Park and ran it until we could find buyers for the land. The business end
of it was waning because of its location and the condition of the park, which
needed a complete overhaul. Because of the times and development of the town
itself, this wasn't practical. Our selling the property seemed to be our only
option to get our investment out of it. The terms for the sale set by Louis
Gobel were hard to meet, and the city of Thousand Oaks made it impossible for
us to execute a sale, as the city refused to give any buyer a conditional use
commitment for the property. We had three qualified buyers lined up and lost
the sale because of this. The monies that would have to be put up were not
refundable and no one would take that gamble. So in the end we had to let
everything go back to Louis Gobel. The final auction was held in Oct. 1969 and
Gobel found that he could not meet the taxes on this property (I suppose the
city still made it too difficult for him to sell). So the property sat idle for
a few years until the city decided they could use it for a Cultural
misconception was that the new owners had a disliking for
Mabel Stark and had in fact fired Stark upon taking
over the park; This is not true. The real reason Stark was let go was
due to insurance. (Stark's life story is quite remarkable in itself. Detailed
reading on Stark can be
"Mabel Stark was very much a friend of all of us, and much admired. It was
a sad day when our Insurance Company informed us that they could not insure the
Park because of her act. Mabel pleaded with the Insurance Company saying that
she would sign a waiver exempting Jungleland and would hold us harmless from
anything that might happen to her. Her wish that she would die in the ring
didn't help the situation either. When we had to ban her from using her act she
left with much remorse. Shortly thereafter she committed suicide. This was a
very sad ending for such a great lady of her day". - Marie Grube
The park closed its doors for good in October of 1969. This was reported by
Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News on October 8'th, 1969. It was reported
again by David Brinkley on the NBC Evening News on October 9'th, 1969. All of
the animals housed at the parks were sold at auction. We have uncovered the
actual news clips which ran on CBS and NBC, documenting the final Jungleland
auction after closure of the park. These ran on Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, 1969. The
audio is *horrible* (to say the least), but you can still make it out.
Closure Auction, News Reel #1, Oct 8., 1969
Closure Auction, News Reel #2, Oct 9., 1969
*** A VERY Special thanks to Marie Grube, Marie's sons Randall Rands and Barry
Rands for the information and help regarding the history of Jungleland.