Information on:

Palm Desert - The Living Desert

47900 Portola Avenue

Our Mission:
The Living Desert’s mission is desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.
The objectives of The Living Desert are:

  • to preserve a portion of the Colorado Desert in its natural state;
  • to foster, through interpretive exhibits, programs and publication, an awareness of, and an appreciation for, the variety of plants and animals in worldwide ecosystems;
  • to build up under controlled conditions, populations of various species of desert animals and plants threatened with extinction in the wild state;
  • and to foster through cooperative research and educational programs, biological studies contributing to the protection of desert species in a wild state.

Our Organization:
We are a non-profit, 501c3 (exempt from taxation) organization with a volunteer Board of Trustees (40), and a paid CEO/President.
The Living Desert’s Board of Trustees is made up of business and community leaders who work with the organization to secure gifts for capital, programming and endowment expansion. Its purpose is to support and enhance zoological programs by providing facilities, funds and advice. The President and the Trustees oversee the Zoo Endowment which helps to provide long-term stability for The Living Desert.

The Living Desert was established in 1970 by several trustees of the Palm Springs Desert Museum who foresaw the impact that resort development would have on their local desert ecosystem. This foresight led to an interpretive nature trail and preserve in Palm Desert. Among the trustees was Philip L. Boyd who also founded the Riverside campus of the University of California and the Deep Canyon Research Station in Palm Desert. Among his first tasks was to hire a resident naturalist. This person turned out to be a young woman with energy, intelligence and ambition, as well as experience as a zoo keeper and park ranger, plus graduate work in wildlife biology. Karen Sausman was President and CEO of The Living Desert for forty years and has recently retired. The vision that built The Living Desert and the love of the desert shared by Phillip Boyd, Karen Sausman, our members, volunteers, staff, trustees, and friends, will be carried forward by our new President and CEO, Allen Monroe.

For almost four decades The Living Desert has been engaged in the important work of preserving, conserving and interpreting the desert and all its varied plant and animal life. Even as we take immense pride in our accomplishments over the last forty years, we remain as dedicated as ever to the goals that initially inspired us when we first began operations in March of 1970.


Lotus Flower

Saturday, March 10, 2018
This place is perfect in many ways. Really gorgeous environment. Many activities and some nice shows. I bought the membership many years in a row and went with my loved nephew time after time. Some packed lunches and some bought meals, always an easy trip with lovely animals to see. All in good condition despite the fact that it is a zoo. We fed the giraffes, pet the goats, had the butterflies fly around us, rode the camel. All and all a really lovely family day, always.

Allison Hughes

Monday, March 12, 2018
We went to PS just for the day, a friend recommended we check out the Zoo! Wow, what a great place...we stayed all day! It's a unique place! More intimate with the animals and lots of variety! We were really impressed how many animals we were able to actually see in action and how up close but extremely safe and well designed everything was! I highly recommend this's unlike any others I've been to! C We can't wait to go back when they finish the Lion expansion they are building now! * **Stop at the Visitor Center on Hwy111 when coming into PS from the North side at the tramway turn...they have $3 discount coupons to the Zoo when you but your Zoo tickets there! (2.26.18 Perfect weather and not hot!)

Isaiah Skinner

Monday, Feb. 19, 2018
Fantastic Zoo! In a nice neighborhood of Palm Desert. Plenty of parking and nice scenery around (rocky, desert and hills). Decent variety of animals easy to see. Inexpensive extras all over (feeding, rides, etc). Not terribly busy, and worth taking the family!!! Go in the winter or the early AM, can get hot in the Summer and the animals are not as active then.

Amanda H

Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018
Such a fun local zoo. Focusing on desert environments makes gives it a nice focus and made it feel different from any other zoo I've ever been too. It's also way bigger than I expected for a small local zoo. You can easily spend a whole half day exploring. During the holidays they also do a fun Christmas light display after hours. I wasn't too impressed with the light displays themselves but it was really neat to get to see some of the animals at night.

Suzanne Miladin

Thursday, March 1, 2018
Excellent zoo and botanical gardens! Good information is posted on signs about the different animals. Lots of feeding events and talks scheduled throughout the day. On the botanical side, more signs posted with botanical names would be helpful, especially with the Salvia. The hiking trails were beautiful but the biggest loop was fairly strenuous. The views on top of Eisenhower Mt. were well worth it though! Spent 6 hours here and never sat down, highly recommended!

The Living Desert is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media