On our last day in Palm Springs, we decided to head 20 minutes east to visit The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, a beautiful zoo with a focus on conservation. We live only about an hour and a half from The Living Desert, but had never been there, so we figured it was about time we check it out.
By the time we arrived, it was probably about 12:30pm and already 90+ degrees outside. A little warm for our taste, but I suppose that’s the cost of admission for visiting a zoo in the desert (well, that plus $50! 😉 )
Once we were all paid up and in the park, we found a shady spot to consult the map and slather our kids with sunscreen. Right near where we stopped, we noticed a giant model train. It seemed an odd exhibit at a zoo, but it was pretty impressive, so we quickly forgot how out of context it seemed…
After watching the train for a bit, it was off to see as many animals as we could. First stop: the African Desert to visit the giraffes.
If you come to see the giraffes at the right time, you may be able to feed them some carrots. It is only $5 for a few carrots (really not bad, I think), and you can walk up and make friends with these leggy beasts! We of course HAD to do this, since our kids were with us!
I don’t know if you can tell in the pictures above, but these guys have really long tongues! I loved watching my kids’ excited faces as the giraffe stuck out its tongue to grab the carrots from their fingers!
After this wonderful giraffe-feeding experience (and a whole lot of Purell!), we started to make our way through the zoo to see the rest of the animals. Our 5-year-old’s main objective was the cheetahs, so we meandered in that general direction.
Along the way, we saw so many different animals. There were camels, zebras, and warthogs. We saw some Ankole longhorn cattle with horns so big, it seemed they should tip over! We checked out the porcupines, hyenas, and wolves. There were really so many different amazing species of animals to see. Unfortunately, many of them were relaxing in the shade–smart animals!–so we weren’t able to see them interacting much, but it was still neat to see what we could.
In the Village Watutu, the kids were able to interact a bit with the animals. There is a Petting Kraal and also a chance to say hello to some desert tortoises. This was fun for out little guys (not so sure if the animals agree!).
After a while, we finally got to the cheetahs, but alas they were also enjoying a little snooze in the shade. I really can’t blame them–I was tempted to find a little patch of shade for a quick catnap of my own!
In addition to seeing the animals, the beautiful desert landscape and gardens at the Living Desert are worth looking around. There are so many different types of cactus, trees, and flowers–we really enjoyed wandering through and seeing it all.
After about two hours, we had reached our limit of walking in the heat, so we decided to call it a day. We will definitely return, making sure to get there earlier in the day to enjoy the cooler morning when both the animals (and the people!!) are refreshed and energized.
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- It is best to go to The Living Desert in the morning. The weather will be more tolerable and this is also when you have the best chance of seeing the animals out and about. The zoo opens at 8:00am in the summer and 9:00am the rest of the year.
- Bring water and sunscreen–it can get hot, hot, hot!
- If you like to hike, there are trails that you can take. We did not do this, but I would love to do some hiking there one of these days!
- The hours of operation are much shorter in the summer, so be sure to check the hours if you are headed to the Living Desert.
- Bring a camera because there is beauty everywhere at this awesome desert zoo!