Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gay's Lion Farm

Charles and Muriel Gay opened Gay's Lion Farm east of Los Angeles in El Monte, California in 1925.  They bred, trained, and exhibited lions there, and it quickly became a popular tourist attraction. Some of the lions they raised and trained were used in Hollywood movies.
I am so glad that the person who visited the farm took the time to write the date and a few other notes on the backs of the cards.
Saturday, July 17 - 1926  "Numa" This lion earns $10,000 a year in the movies.

This card also has the same date on the back.


Saturday - July 17 - 1926 "Slats"

Slats was the original MGM logo lion and was used in all the black-and-white MGM movies from 1924-1928.

In 1928, an unfortunate event happened while Charles and Muriel were in Europe. Three of the lions escaped as they were being moved between cages. The farm manager was slashed by one of the lions and ended up dying. That lion and the other two had to be shot.

Gay's Lion Farm had to close in 1942 because war shortages made it impossible for them to get the ton of horse meat they needed daily to feed the lions. Although the farm no longer exists, there is allegedly a life-size statue of a lion at the Interstate 10 overpass where the farm used to be. Somehow, this reminds me of the North-going Zax and South-going Zax from Dr. Seuss.  Remember them? They meet face-to-face in the Valley of Prax and are both unwilling to move. Eventually freeways and overpasses are built around them. It's just a visual similarity, although the moral of the Seuss story (compromise) doesn't apply here.


  1. How cool is it that Slats was the original MGM lion. Too bad about the escape and death. Another glimpse of history that wouldn't be here to see without photographs and postcards.

  2. Whoa, nice kitty, relax... I wonder how many lions that ton of meat fed every day, and if it is at all comparable to the amount of food that lions in the wild would eat. The face of the lion on the last card makes me wonder if one of his parents was a pug!

  3. Thank you for such a nostalgic post. I'm an animal lover, so this was really an interesting reveal of something that I never new existed. Thanks again, and by the way, I invite you to stop by my blog and see the post I made using vintage postcards from my hometown, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.

  4. Wow! The second photo is my favorite. Awe-inspiring and scary both. Either Mr. Gay is only 3 feet tall or lions are much larger, longer, than I ever realized!

  5. That cat'd need a pool cue for a toothpick.:-} Jack/Youngstown

  6. Love these cat pics .. .
    each one a treasure.


  7. I really like these cards, and that is impressive to know this was the MGM lion. So evocative of 1920s ballyhoo.



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