Friday, January 15, 2021

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens offers splendid global flora, fauna


A mother cheetah and her growing juvenile wander about a beautiful preserve near Palm Desert.
They are not caged, but able to roam within a large expanse at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.


A group of Australian budgerigars a
is almost close enough
to touch -- but we wouldn't disturb them. We know them
as "budgies" or parakeets, and they love seeds.

IMAGINE in these cloistered "Covid times," a walk with nature from around the world.
Picture yourself admiring graceful gazelles on the African plain, or getting up close to a pair of playful wallabies in the Australian outback.
Zebras, giraffes, beautiful green and yellow "budgies."
Foxes, oxen, exotic deer from distant  continents.
You can join us. We were thrilled to find this exotic, international outing possible, without leaving California.
IT HAPPENS at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens  near Palm Desert, Calif., not far from Palm Springs.
It's a magnificent, welcome native wildlife zoo, considered by many to be one of the finest zoos in the world.
 accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, exhibits more than 40 species of animals and hundreds of species of plants native to the Chihuahuan Desert. The park provides an up-close experience for visitors, with a variety of fun interpretive programs for every season, geared for the
All wallabies are marsupials ,
with young born tiny, helpless
and undeveloped. This mother
has a young "joey" in her pouch.

family. Living Desert also has beautiful hiking trails, picnic areas and group facilities.
WE PICKED a Sunday for our visit, arranging tickets on line, as the website requests.
Because of distancing and masking, the zoo has reopened with strict protocol in place, and we were happy to see our fellow animal lovers behaving in respectful, courteous manner.
One of our favorite exhibits was to the wondrous wallaby enclave. Several wallaby adults are hopping about not far from the paths that lead zoo visitors around from "continent to continent."  There are several dozen species of kangaroos and wallabies, and they are among the favorites at the beautifully designed zoo and gardens. 
While viewers are welcome to get fairly close to many of the animals, guides and guards monitor the flow of viewers, keeping a close eye on behavior to make sure these beautiful critters are protected. 
Keller and Cookie spent a "masked afternoon"
discovering wildlife at Living Desert Zoo.
Numbers of entrants are monitored so the wildlife wonders unfold in a leisurely manner, allowing visitors to step up to viewing areas without crowds, respecting social distancing edicts.
WHILE SOME of the enticing attractions are closed -- no giraffe feeding or endangered species carousel for now -- there's plenty to entertain a family on holiday, or anyone simply looking for a unique, nature-driven outing.
We headed past the in-progress rhino attraction, which should open within the year, and stopped first in Australia, then on to Africa.  We didn't do justice to North America, since we live here and have
A graceful Arabian oryx eyes the camera.

The grounds and buildings are handsomely designed.
seen bobcats, badgers, wolves, foxes and eagles in the wild.  The exhibit is praised for its beautiful and varied collection of critters, ranging from coyotes to desert tortoises, jaguars, bighorn sheep and peccaries.
The large North America section is also home to some striking gardens, including palms, cacti, ocotillo, and many others of the varied plants our continent enjoys.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens was known for a time as the Living Desert Museum. The current name better represents the place, which is both a remarkable desert botanical garden and an impressive zoo.
Palm Desert isn't far from Palm Springs, and this is a great time to view the Sonoran Desert as spring begins in the Coachella Valley and Santa Rosa Mountains foothills.
Architects have fashioned an inviting terrain to simulate that of the animals' native homes.
The attraction is also a "free range" zoo, along with a marvelous botanical garden and nature preserve, protecting 1,200 acres of desert.
WE WANDERED through carefully marked garden and plant areas, which greet the eye on a casual stroll.   
The nature trails were not open the day we visited, but the non-profit enterprise is slowly rebounding from closure at the beginning of the "Covid scourge."
 It's a wonderful place to visit and learn and when Covid is conquered, the petting zoos, wildlife and reptile shows and lectures will be back in business.  Meanwhile, a worthy endeavor to support.

Go on line to to book tickets in advance for your visit.

Lady Gaga's tremendous arrangement of The National
Anthem was moving at Wednesday's Inauguration.
UP NEXT:  Wednesday's Presidential Inauguration was rich with moving moments, many of them musical. From Lady Gaga's fabulous soulful singing of the National Anthem to Garth Brooks inviting the audience to join him in "Amazing Grace," all backed by the nation's finest band, the U.S. Marine Band. We'll take a look at the meaning of music, poetry and the arts in Washington D.C. and the White House and  important moments in the country's history. Meanwhile, remember to mask, distance, and explore, learn and live while we await a vaccine. Please share this column, too, and comment.   


  1. Burlingame BicyclistsJanuary 19, 2021 at 10:30 PM

    Wonderful find! We appreciate knowing about this hidden treasure.

  2. D.C. political devoteesJanuary 20, 2021 at 1:14 PM

    Always fun to see your take on current events, so we look forward to Friday's post on the Inauguration music. Great job sharing the wildlife museum, too.

  3. Fabulous photos. I love the budgies best of all....but they are all prize winners. Fun, fluid writing as always.