Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

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Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Living desert.JPG
The gardens
Date openedMarch 1, 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 animals430[2]
No. of species150[2]
Annual visitors350,000[2]
MembershipsAZA,[3] WAZA[4]

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, formerly the Living Desert Museum, is a desert botanical garden and a zoo located in Palm Desert, Riverside County, California, United States. They are in the Sonoran Desert of the Coachella Valley and Santa Rosa Mountains foothills near Palm Springs, California.

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]

History and exhibits[edit]

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 Living Desert also features an attraction called Camel Rides which allows visitors to ride camels. The exhibit, Monarch of the Desert, was constructed on the North America Trail. Lion Ridge, the habitat for lions, is still incomplete. The Living Desert is one of six accredited (AZA) private zoos in the United States and operates as a non-profit.3


The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens 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 captive breeding of African and Sonoran Desert species, including the area's iconic desert bighorn sheep.

Gardens and plant habitats[edit]

Other features[edit]

The Palo Verde Garden Center started when garden staff started propagating plants from the garden collection for sale to members and now sells those plants to the public. Many of the plants sold here may not be found anywhere else.[6]

The Zoo and Gardens featured one of the world's largest LGB model railroad layouts, with about 3,000 feet (910 m) of the track. The world's longest wooden G-scale model trestle (202 feet 8 inches (61.77 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 as part of the annual WildLights holiday program and ran only in the evenings. In 2001 the trains started running throughout the year and during the day. The trains and track belong to the gardens.[7][8]

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. ^ a b c "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. ^ "The Living Desert Agave Collection". Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Archived from the original on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Palo Verde Garden Center". Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Archived from the original on 27 April 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]