Take a Trip to Australia Right Here in Palm Desert
Written By: Rex Lee Searcey
Photography Provided By: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens Australian Adventures Exhibit
Having celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2020, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is unique in its focus on global desert environments and their fascinating animal inhabitants. Rated as one of the best zoos in the US, The Living Desert is a great destination for a fun, exciting and educational day trip. Even with the current pandemic constraints, visitors can still enjoy an array of amazing animals, beautiful gardens and outdoor activities. Some terrific new exhibits are scheduled to open in the coming months, so you’ll want to be the first in line! Here’s a sneak peek at one of the newest attractions at The Living Desert: Australian Adventures.
The mission of The Living Desert is the conservation and preservation of natural desert environments and species, especially those that are endangered. To that end, habitats are designed to allow as much interaction between guests and animals as possible. This builds a personal connection, deeper appreciation of the animals and greater motivation to support conservation efforts and species protection. The Australian Adventures experience is the newest—and one of the best—examples of such interactive design. “It’s an immersive, walkabout experience,” says Erin Scott, senior manager of marketing and public relations. Australian Adventures ExhibitExp 5/31
Guests actually enter the habitat, sharing it with free-roaming Bennett’s wallabies and budgerigars. Attractively landscaped with over 50 species of native Australian plants, a walkway takes guests through the experience and charming wallabies may occasionally approach and investigate guests. Guests are not allowed to touch the animals, but you can thoroughly enjoy the close encounter. Around the walkway perimeter are the homes of a variety of other Australian animals. All animal habitats are custom-designed with the needs and natural behaviors of the animals in mind.
One large habitat simulates a rocky cliff face—the typical environment of the yellow-footed wallabies. Other animals featured include bettongs, short-beaked echidnas, laughing kookaburras, bearded dragons, blue-tongued skinks, frill-necked lizards and centralian carpet and olive pythons. A pair of tawny frogmouths, sit motionless on tree branches, their feathers camouflaged with the tree bark (“They’re doing their ‘You can’t see me’ thing,” says Scott). And welcoming guests into the habitat is an engaging trio of emus, the second largest bird in the world, striding gracefully around and watching you as you watch them. Australian Adventures Exhibit
Interpretive panels throughout the exhibit provide information on the animals and other subjects. One describes the similarities between the southwest US deserts and Australian ones. The animals share many similar features, and guests may recognize many of the Australian plants, as they are widely implemented in Southern California landscapes.
Another panel describes the negative effects of climate change, such as devastating wildfires, on both the North American and Australian environments. Information is provided to let guests know how they can help prevent climate change. According to Scott, “The more we can do together, the better off we all are.” Zoo volunteers and animal caretakers are also present to answer questions.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a nonprofit establishment that relies on guest admissions, memberships and donations. A membership will give you frequent access to the zoo and support the valuable work they do. A visit to The Living Desert is not only a fun way to spend the day, but helps save species around the world.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
47900 Portola Ave
Palm Desert, CA 92260
760.346.5694 Australian Adventures Exhibit