The “Lake Pit” in Hancock Park is one of the La Brea Tar Pits. The staff of the adjacent George C. Page Museum have installed models of a family of Columbian mammoths to depict a typical scenario that produced the fossilized bones on display in the museum. Crude oil seeps from fissures under the lake; and under the right circumstances the thickest constituents of the oil could become sticky enough to trap even a mammoth. Here one of the mammoths has become trapped in a pool of tar hidden under the water after entering the lake for a bath and a drink, as the rest of the family helplessly looks on.
Inside the museum are boxes containing some of the tar, into which have been placed metal rods that let visitors safely experience the tar’s viscosity. Once you’ve tried pulling on the rods, you’ll understand how even a powerful animal could become fatally stuck in the tar.