|Date opened||March 1970|
|Location||Palm Desert, California, United States|
|Land area||1,800 acres (730 ha)
(1,720 acres (700 ha) left in natural state)
|No. of animals||430|
|No. of species||150|
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, formerly the Living Desert Museum, is a desert botanical garden and a zoo located in Palm Desert, Riverside County, California, United States. They are in the Sonoran Desert of the Coachella Valley and Santa Rosa Mountains foothills near Palm Springs, California.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens has been a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1983, and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). It has participated in species reintroduction programs including the peninsular bighorn sheep to the local mountains and returning Arabian oryx to Oman.
The gardens of the Low Desert - Colorado Desert were established in 1970 as a 360-acre (150 ha) wilderness preserve by several trustees of the Palm Springs Desert Museum. By 1974 the gardens housed a kit fox, tortoises, lizards, and two bighorn sheep. In 1974-75 the Mojave Garden was built, a replica of the High Desert - Mojave Desert. Additional facilities have gradually been constructed, including greenhouses, model trains, and designed landscape gardens. New animal introductions include: rhim gazelles (1981); mountain lions, bobcats and badgers (1993); meerkats; cheetahs and warthogs (1995); striped hyenas (1998); giraffes and ostriches (2002). The 'Amphibians on the Edge' exhibit shows a variety of different species of frogs, toads, and salamanders (2007). The Endangered Species Carousel was constructed in fall 2009, and the Peninsular Pronghorn Exhibit was constructed in fall 2010. The Living Desert also features an attraction called Camel Rides which allows visitors to ride camels. The exhibit, Monarch of the Desert, was constructed on the North America Trail. Lion Ridge, the habitat for lions, is still incomplete. The Living Desert is one of six accredited (AZA) private zoos in the United States and operates as a non-profit.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a zoo and botanic garden combination dedicated solely to the deserts of the world. The programs provide environmental education, native wildlife rehabilitation, plant propagation and habitat restoration, and captive breeding of African and Sonoran Desert species, including the area's iconic desert bighorn sheep.
The Palo Verde Garden Center started when garden staff started propagating plants from the garden collection for sale to members, and now sells those plants to the public. Many of the plants sold here may not be found anywhere else.
The Zoo and Gardens features one of the world's largest LGB model railroad layouts, with about 3,000 feet (910 m) of track. The world's longest wooden G-scale model trestle (202 feet 8 inches (61.77 m)) lets trains travel between the upper and lower portions of the wash in which it was built - an almost 2-foot (0.61 m) drop. The trains started as part of the annual WildLights holiday program, and ran only in the evenings. In 2001 the trains started running throughout the year and during the day. The trains and track belong to the gardens.