The Los Angeles Zoo is finishing National Latino Heritage Month with its first-ever Beloved Pets Ofrenda (altar) designed to honor the memory of cherished animal companions that have passed away.
The altar was erected last Saturday, Oct. 9, and will be set up until Nov. 2.
Guests can come and print out or draw photos of their pets and place their decorated pictures on the ofrenda located at the Zoo’s Love Wall at Tree Tops Terrace. The Zoo partnered with Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for the Arts & Education students and their families to co-create this special ofrenda and community art display.
“Plaza de la Raza has a long history of connecting art, culture, and education to L.A.’s Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx communities –- communities that are the foundation of what Los Angeles represents,” said Denise M. Verret, CEO and zoo director of the Los Angeles Zoo.
“A common bond we all share is the love we have for our pets; the care that we provide and the bonds that are formed are very similar for the animals that call the LA Zoo home. Empathy for all living things inspires the passion to protect them, and continuing to remember them is ever important in our environment today.”
An “ofrenda,” which means “offering” in Spanish, is an altar with items that honor loved ones who have passed away. These ceremonial displays are a colorful mix of symbols, pictures, flowers, memorabilia, food, beverages, and other meaningful items, and all are an essential part of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, which Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx cultures observe on Nov. 1 and 2.
“Getting to partner with the Los Angeles Zoo is a wonderful opportunity to work together to help relaunch the cultural vitality of our City, and emerge from the challenges and death due to COVID-19,” said Maria Jimenez Torres, executive director of Plaza de la Raza.
“Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, is a celebration of life. It recognizes death as a part of life, and we remember our ancestors and loved ones, thus keeping them alive in our hearts and minds. We welcome the opportunity to share our culture with our friends and new audiences.”
Zoo Learning & Engagement staff will be on-site to help co-create the ofrenda with guests every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. If guests cannot come on weekends, the ofrenda will be accessible during normal Zoo hours for guests to bring their own printed out photos of their pets.
The ofrenda will be up and on display through the end of Día de los Muertos on Tuesday, Nov. 2.