Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

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The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Living desert.JPG
The gardens
Date openedMarch 9, 1970[1]
LocationPalm Desert, California, United States
Coordinates33°41′45″N 116°22′13″W / 33.69583°N 116.37028°W / 33.69583; -116.37028Coordinates: 33°41′45″N 116°22′13″W / 33.69583°N 116.37028°W / 33.69583; -116.37028
Land area1,800 acres (730 ha)
(1,720 acres (700 ha) left in natural state)[1]
No. of animals500
No. of species150[2]
Annual visitors500,000
MembershipsAZA,[3] WAZA[4]
Major exhibitsWilds of North America, African Safari, Australian Adventures

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, formerly the Living Desert Museum, is a non-profit zoo and desert botanical garden located in Palm Desert, Riverside County, California, United States. The Living Desert is home to over 500 animals representing over 150 species and welcomes over 500,000 visitors annually. Situated in the Sonoran Desert of the Coachella Valley and Santa Rosa Mountains foothills near Palm Springs, California, The Living Desert is set on 1,200 acres, with 80 developed as zoo and gardens.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens has been a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1983,[1] and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). It has participated in species reintroduction programs including the peninsular bighorn sheep to the local mountains and returning Arabian oryx to Oman.[1]


Barn owls at the zoo

The gardens of the Low DesertColorado Desert were established in 1970 as a 360-acre (150 ha) wilderness preserve by several trustees of the Palm Springs Desert Museum. By 1974, the gardens housed a kit fox, tortoises, lizards, and two bighorn sheep. In 1974–75 the Mojave Garden was built, a replica of the High DesertMojave Desert. Additional facilities have gradually been constructed, including greenhouses, model trains, and designed landscape gardens. New animal introductions include rhim gazelles (1981); mountain lions, bobcats and badgers (1993); meerkats; cheetahs and warthogs (1995); striped hyenas (1998); giraffes and ostriches (2002). The 'Amphibians on the Edge' exhibit shows a variety of different species of frogs, toads, and salamanders (2007). The Endangered Species Carousel was constructed in fall 2009, and the Peninsular Pronghorn Exhibit was constructed in fall 2010. The exhibit, Monarch of the Desert, was constructed on the North America Trail and featured the majestic jaguar. In 2020, Australian Adventures opened as an immersive habitat featuring Bennett's Wallaby, Yellow-footed rock wallaby, kookaburra and more. The Living Desert is set to open the new Rhino Savanna in Fall 2021. The Living Desert is one of six accredited (AZA) private zoos in the United States and operates as a non-profit.

Goals and Mission[edit]

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens' mission is desert conservation through preservation, education, and appreciation. It is a zoo and botanic garden combination dedicated solely to the deserts of the world. The programs provide environmental education, native wildlife rehabilitation, plant propagation, and habitat restoration, and breeding of African, Australian, and North America species, including the area's iconic desert bighorn sheep.

Animal habitats[edit]

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is divided into regions, each housing animals from three continents.[5]

African Safari

Featured animals include:

Wilds of North America

Featured animals include:

Australian Adventures

Australian Adventures is an immersive, walk-through habitat. Guests enter the habitat with the wallabies Featured animals include:

Gardens and plant habitats[edit]

Other features[edit]

The Zoo and Gardens featured one of the world's largest LGB model railroad layouts, with 3,115 feet (949 m) of the track. The world's longest wooden G-scale model trestle (201.8 feet (61.5 m)) lets trains travel between the upper and lower portions of the wash in which it was built – an almost 2-foot (0.61 m) drop. The trains started in 1998 as part of the annual WildLights holiday program and ran only in the evenings. In 2000 the trains started running throughout the year and during the day and at present there are 18 separate train lines that can run simultaneously. The trains and track are managed by an all-volunteer team.[7][8]

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens features nature and hiking trails accessible only to members and visitors of the Park.

Wildlife Wonders Show is seasonally offered and features free-flight birds, animal demonstrations, and encounters.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Our History". Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Living Desert Zoo & Gardens". Desert USA. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". WAZA. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Animals | The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens".
  6. ^ "The Living Desert Agave Collection". Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  7. ^ "G-Scale Model Train". Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Archived from the original on 24 April 2012. Retrieved 17 March 2012.
  8. ^ "History Of G-Scale Trains – How This Scale Got Started And Why People Choose It". Retrieved 17 March 2012.

External links[edit]