Before Anaheim was invaded by Disney rodents, a large theme park was drawing crowds of up to 30,000 guests a month. Instead of a mouse, the main attraction was a human-like chimpanzee. The year was 1952, three years before uncle Walty opened Disneyland, and Dutton's Jungle Gardens sprawled across 7-acres at the intersection of Orangethorpe and Raymond Avenues. Anaheim native Jack Dutton transformed the small orange grove into a lush tropical wonderland replete with an aviary and populated by a menagerie of jungle critters. Despite the fact that Dutton would go on to serve on Fullerton's planning commission, become Anaheim's mayor (four times), and is credited with helping to bring the Angels to town, folks typically give blank stares when asked about this once grand attraction.
Jack Dutton was born in Anaheim in 1910. After his parents divorced, he lived with his grandmother on a local ranch. Photos from the Anaheim High School yearbook show he was an accomplished athlete who played baseball, basketball, and in 1926 was captain of the football team.
|Courtesy Fullerton Public Library|