Cost-General Admission $19.95
Seniors (62+) $17.95
Children (Ages 3 – 12) $9.95
Children under 3 Free
If the brilliant blue skies and warm winter sunshine aren't enough to encourage a trip to Palm Springs, perhaps one of the more interesting zoos in SoCal will do it. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a must do for our family whenever we find ourselves in the area. It isn't just a typical zoo, but also a nature preserve, protecting over 1,000 acres of Sonoran Desert. Not only are there many diverse and interesting animal exhibits, but there are nature trails for hiking and loads of learning opportunities for young and old naturalists and conservationists alike. There is even something for those more mechanically-minded; a large and detailed G-scale model railroad.
The African animals on exhibit at the zoo are very popular and include cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, leopards, hyenas, and let's not forget the warthogs and meerkats. This is just a small number of residents in this section. An African village, Village WaTuTu, is located next to the Petting Kraal, or petting zoo, for those that desire a closer inspection of the tamer, smaller animals.
Among the North American exhibits are the jaguar, Mexican wolf, golden eagle and the local bighorn sheep, plus many more. For gardening fans this is the area to head to. Besides the unsurprising, middle of the desert, cactus garden, expect to find a varying and interesting number of gardens including a sage garden, upper Colorado desert garden and a Baja oasis garden, just to name a few. There are over 75 botanical gardens throughout the property.
The opportunities to learn about the animals and this zoo's conservation efforts are many. Throughout the day 'Chats' are held at various locations and exhibits to talk about the different animals and programs. Be sure to get a schedule for these interesting opportunities to learn more in depth about some of the residents. Giraffe feeding is always a highlight and on the day we visited there was a young newcomer to admire. The Mojave Desert Tortoise was out for a Chat on the day of our visit as well.
The Tennity Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center is located at the zoo and open to visitors. On occasion some of the recovering patients are on view with information on how or why they are being treated. Many of the animals are locals injured in some way and brought to the hospital for treatment to be returned to the wild if possible. The staff also provides tours and talks. There is a Discovery Center for hands on learning and a new shady play area to give smaller ones a break from the stroller.
The Living Zoo and Desert is open from 9am-5pm from October to the end of May. Summer hours are reduced significantly, 8am-1pm, for good reason. It's incredibly hot during the summer months, not suitable for children or animals to be out. The best time to go is winter or early spring. There is a paved stroller and wheelchair accessible path through most of the zoo, although some of the hiking trails are dirt. Don't forget sunscreen when visiting and check the weather for uncomfortably high temperatures before venturing out.