Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - Palm Desert, California - desert zoo focusing on preservation of endangered species, research, and education
With over 1000 acres of preserved landscape, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California is one of the country's few zoos focused on a desert environment. The zoo's goals are to preserve their portion of the Colorado Desert so that it can remain a natural habitat for animals featured in the park, to educate others about the animals native to this part of the world, to build populations of animals that are endangered or threatened, and to research the species of plants and animals found in the desert. The zoo was founded in 1970 with just 360 acres, but today it is much large piece of land with many more animals and plants represented.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens features both animals native to the Colorado Desert and animals that live in desert environments around the world. One of the most popular animal exhibits is called "Africa from A to Z''. This area is filled with animals such as the Arabian Oryx, slender-horned gazelles, and sand cats, which have all been threatened nearly to the point of extinction due to excessive hunting and other conditions. Other animals included in this exhibit are fennec foxes, meerkats, dik diks, warthogs, aardwolves, zebras, and camels.
Another popular exhibit at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is called North America: Our Own Backyard. These desert species are all native to the deserts of North America, and because the sun can be so hot, a number of these animals are nocturnal. The park has an exhibit set up to simulate nightfall, which means that visitor will able to see these animals at their most active times. Some of the members of this exhibit include owls, bats, scorpions, lizards, and snakes. There are also parts of this exhibit area, which showcase animals active during the day, like hummingbirds, wolves, coyotes, badgers, roadrunners, mountain lions, bobcats, vultures, eagles, and certain species of lizards. The largest section in North America: Our Own Backyard feature the Peninsular Bighorn Sheep, a species with declining numbers despite the efforts of conservation researchers.
The giraffes have their own exhibit at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Although still growing, these animals will reach heights of 18 feet eventually, and they inhabit a 3-acre piece of land at the zoo that simulates the African savanna where these creatures are found naturally. Their grounds have palm trees, acacia tress, a watering hole, and a feeding platform, and also are home to three ostriches and two Egyptian geese, which are species that live peacefully with giraffes in the wild.
Young minds who want to learn more about all of the animals found in the zoo can visit the Discovery Room. This facility helps kids learn by including interactive displays focusing on the animals of the park. There's also Gecko Gulch for kids, which is a desert-themed play area, and Village WaTuTu, which is an authentic replica of an African village that appeals to visitors of all ages. Contact the zoo at 760-568-9685 for more information.
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