It’s spring! What better time to visit your local zoos and parks.
Flowers are in bloom and nature abounds.
Take a trip to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert.
The zoo offers a glimpse of animals near and far.
One of the newer exhibits is the Australian Adventure.
Take a trip “down below” and imagine yourself on the driest continent on earth.
Once you walk through a gated entrance with sliding doors, you will immediately see Bennett’s wallabies.
These wallabies look like a miniature version of a kangaroo.
Wallabies will barely bounce off guests’ feet as they move from one section of the exhibit to another.
As you walk through the exhibit, you’ll see yellow-legged wallabies resting along the edges of a red rock wall.
Yellow-footed wallabies are known for their ability to scale rock formations.
You will also see cockatiels and parakeets flying freely.
Talk about an intimate and personal experience with Outback animals.
One of my favorite birds is the kookaburra. The zoo has several of these birds to view.
The African Savannah section of the park allows visitors to see cheetahs resting or walking along a grassy knoll.
Other creatures like Cape porcupines, Grevey’s zebra, camels, striped hyenas, vultures, wild dogs and other African animals are also on display.
If available, you may have the chance to feed a giraffe. There may be an additional cost.
The Living Desert is also known for its large model train exhibit.
With over 3,000 feet of track, locomotives can be seen hauling goods and people on scenic routes like the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore.
On the North American side of the zoo, visitors can view an adult cougar through a thick acrylic glass pane.
The North American exhibit also hosts eagles, Mexican wolves, peccaries, a jaguar, a kit fox, and an enclosed aviary.
You might even see a coyote in a tree at the coyote exhibit.
What I find unique about the park is that you can encounter some really wild animals.
I ran a roadrunner as I walked along the path.
Wild spiny-scaled lizards can be seen clinging to branches or rustling in the crisp undergrowth.
A variety of hummingbirds are also ubiquitous.
Above your head you may see red-tailed hawks, house finches, phainopeplas, verdins, red-headed vultures and other California birds.
Gecko Gulch is a playground for children.
Around the corner, near the carousel of endangered species, you will see bighorn sheep.
If you’re lucky, you can see the ram resting on the top edge of the rocky mountain looking into the distance.
If you don’t feel like walking, you can take a private tram tour.
As the guide stops along the exhibits and gardens, he provides information about the exhibit, the animals, and the ongoing conservation work to protect the species.
Some of the plants you will see in this desert landscape are Desert Milkweed, Elephant Tree, Desert Willow, Coyote Melon, Desert Baccharis, Coastal Agave, Baja Fairy Duster, Hedgehog Calico and other drought tolerant plants.
A suggestion would be to get to the zoo and garden early before the heat sets in.
Bring water, sunscreen and a visor.
Bon voyage, as you explore and meet animals from Africa, Australia and North America.
The Living Desert is located at 47900 Portola Ave. in Palm Desert.
For more information on hours of operation, membership, private events, and other activities, you can call (760) 346-4694.