The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
4.5
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a nonprofit, accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, ensuring the highest standards of all aspects of animal care, education, conservation, public service, and operations. The Zoo is active in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs and education initiatives around the world, as well as in its own community. The Zoo has been a top attraction in the Palm Springs area for nearly 50 years. The Living Desert is located at 47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260. In order to create a streamlined entry process, with minimal wait times, beginning on Sunday, October 1, all non-member tickets to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens must be pre-purchased online or at the self-service kiosks near the Zoo entrance.
Duration: More than 3 hours
Meets animal welfare guidelines
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  • concertpix
    307 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    GREAT WAY TO HAVE FUN, LEARN AND EXPLORE
    VERY hot day so I got to the zoo just after they opened. Before I even got inside I was fascinated by the beautiful flowers and cactus plants surrounding me. Once inside I had time to talk to both volunteers and animal caretakers. I had SO much fun taking pictures. This is more than a zoo. The entire facility is clean, trails and walkways are perfect. The details to the desert environment was great. You'll see many pictures of the flowers along with the animals. It's a medium sized zoo with areas to sit and relax and vending machines to keep you hydrated. If I visit the Palm Springs area again I would 100% enjoy a repeat visit. One friend already commented to me that they were a "friend" to the zoo and I should come again during the Christmas holiday season. May just do that.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written July 14, 2023
  • Jenny White
    Denver, Colorado41 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Glow In The Park is a MUST SEE!
    My 11 year old son and I attended for Glow In The Park and had the absolute best time. We bounced around this perfect size zoo playing in the light installations and were SO impressed with the experience. What a fantastic layout (the zoo) and beautiful experience (Glow In The Park). We especially loved the food and were so happily surprised that they had a fantastic tofu bowl (vegan).
    Visited April 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 29, 2023
  • dan j
    Port Coquitlam, Canada749 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Huge Improvements in the Past 20 Years
    We hadn't been to this zoo in 20 years since our kids were young, now we went with them and our grandkids. There have been huge improvements with many exhibits added over the years. Feeding the Giraffe's was a huge hit with my grandson followed by combing the goats. There is an impressive collection of desert friendly animals that is worth a visit with a lion exhibit coming in 2025.
    Visited September 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written September 25, 2023
  • Teresa W
    618 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Awesome Zoo / Garden Experience
    This was our first visit and my husband and I were very impressed. Every staff member we encountered was extremely friendly, helpful and informative. We've been to a lot of zoos and this was certainly one of the best. We loved the desert being incorporated into the gardens and habitats and it did our hearts good to see the animals appeared "happy" and unstressed. We were also glad we stopped into the hospital for a quick tour to see the program they have in effect to help the desert tortoises. The walking paths were very nice and not too hilly which was nice for us older folks. With the exception of the zebras, we could see most of the other animals up close and the giraffes were definitely our favorite exhibit. Although, I initially thought the admission was expensive, I felt better about the cost by the time we left. If I lived in the area, I would absolutely by a yearly pass and go there every day for my walk. Fantastic Experience!
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 14, 2023
  • Ron Z
    Downey, California56 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    I'm coming back for more.
    Came here midweek towards the end of October. Weather cooperated as it was not hot. We were going to celebrate an anniversary here, because, giraffes are top 5 on ht e list al animals se loves, and she has never met one face to face. I never told her until the the day before we left to tell her what we were doing. I disagree when you go there they tell you allow at least 3 hours. MOre on that later. I paid for the full blown guided tour and I ma glad I did because there is a lot of walking. And it included what I was going there for, to let her feed a giraffe. Our tour guide Bruce, was amazing and knew a lot. In a couple of places he had to drop us off and he would meet us at the end of a path that was too dangerous to take the cart. There were docent people telling you what you were looking at and a ton of background information. We took a 2 hour tour that lasted almost 3 hours. Bruce sort of got the feel for thing he thought would love, he was right, and he even changed a couple of things we asked for. Over all, brilliant. When we left him, we ate a pretty decent burger there. I would say I have never seen a place so clean and well maintained. The grounds, the building, you could eat off the restroom floors (but really, don't!). WHen we left I realize we missed a good half of the park. Missed the hiking trails too. It is deceivingly small but it is not. We both agree we have to return, maybe twice because they will in the future be adding lions. They gave ua a very pleasant and fun day.
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 29, 2023
  • janhad
    Glenwood, Illinois257 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing experience!!!
    What a wonderful thing they are doing here, educating people about endangered animals and conservation. I got to feed a giraffe, which was AWESOME. I also got up close and personal to a wallaby, which was equally AWESOME. The grounds are very walkable. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. They are very environmentally aware. I especially love that there are no straws or plastic bags on the premises. Definitely recommend a visit or if you can’t visit, donate. They are doing great things here for the animals.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written November 12, 2023
  • fauxpaw2
    Lethbridge, Canada123 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Living Desert Zoo, worth seeing
    We were on vacation and went to this zoo for the first time in 24 years. It has grown a lot and was very good. staff were helpful and knowledgeable. Lots of animals I didn't know about. I would highly recommend a visit.
    Visited November 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written December 10, 2023
  • Rupinder Kaur
    Edmonton, Canada169 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great animals and experience!
    Really enjoyed this zoo— there were many animals we haven’t come across at other zoos; rhinos, giraffes, leopards and cheetahs. It’s a huge vicinity, so wear comfortable shoes and plan for it to be a 3-4 hour affair. We also were able to feed giraffes which was so co!
    Visited December 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written December 11, 2023
  • Annelle8888
    Vancouver, Canada2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Must go! Amazing!
    Amazing time! It was very beautiful & clean there-All the animals are so incredibly well cared for by the staff & they areas are large & beautiful. Lovely coffee cafe’s & beautiful seating areas. The volunteers there were most helpful & educators on the animals there with many interesting animal facts! Very much worth it!
    Visited February 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written February 10, 2024
  • Jennifer L
    16 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Living desert and zoo
    A great place to visit. Knowledgeable staff and well maintained animal pens. Whilst conservation is front and centre for the Living Desert and zoo, and we are fortunate to have organizations like this to educate the public on the wonderful animals in their care, some of the enclosures were very small and the animals were just pacing. Hopefully the construction project currently ongoing will include improvements in this regard. As an aside I understand raising the money required to run the zoo is a huge undertaking but $42+ for 2 beer and popcorn is excessive. I would certainly recommend this activity for families but unfortunately it's not affordable for many.
    Visited February 2024
    Traveled as a couple
    Written February 26, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles3,142 reviews
Excellent
2,113
Very good
751
Average
210
Poor
43
Terrible
25

Craig
Evanston, IL170 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2020
In the age of covid, this was a welcome way to be able to get out of the house for some enjoyment. Everyone was wearing masks and keeping their distance. Tickets are purchased for a specific admission time so they are appropriately limiting attendance.

We enjoyed all of the animal exhibits - especially the Giraffes in the Africa section, and the Wallaby exhibit in the Australia section. The Giraffes were so close, and being able to be in the large enclosure with the Wallabies was especially fun.

Highly recommend this as an activity, and your ticket purchase helps support their conservation efforts. We'll be back!
Written December 31, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

luvintotravel
La Quinta, CA218 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
We didn't know much at all about the living desert, but went to see what it's about. General admission for adults was $25.00 and for seniors, I think it was about $22.00
There are many signs to guide you around, if you want you can take their shuttle for $8.00, but it doesn't give you enough time at the stops. We walked, and enjoyed seeing all the animals: giraffes, cheetahs, zebra's , monkeys, and many more.
The educational part was the explanation of many of the trees or plants that were growing there, some from Africa, others from Madagascar, it went on and on, explaining the type of climate they live in, and some were only grown in one place in the world!
At the end of the trail, is this huge elaborate model train exhibit! It's very impressive with waterfalls, bridges, little towns set up with people and old cars. We had no idea we'd see something like this and it was just wonderful!
I could go on and on about the Living Desert, but you really should go see it! We went in the beginning of March, and it was around78 that day, so it did get warm on our walk; but March was perfect, Wear sunscreen for sure; we spent about 1 1/2 hours there, you could spend more time if you wanted though.
Written March 22, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CPJT
Nanoose Bay, Canada19 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Family
Living Desert was one of the highlights of our trip. So many interesting animals, and we found the gardens and desert plants equally interesting to see. We spent about four hours there, including a break for lunch, and only saw the African side of the zoo. The kids loved feeding the giraffes, which costs an extra $7 for a few leaves of lettuce but was well worth it because it’s such a unique experience. There is also a massive model train exhibit in the centre of the zoo which is at least the size of a school gymnasium. It’s quite spectacular with all sorts of different scenes and types of trains. We had lunch at the Kookaburra Cafe and all of the sandwiches we ordered were excellent, and the fruit cups were a refreshing option. We did find it a bit difficult to navigate through the park, even with the map, and didn’t notice until afterward that the zoo has an app, so that might be worth checking out.
Written March 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Patricia H
Duncan, Canada79 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
We were looking forward to seeing this zoo because we were told by a staff member at the Palm Desert Visitor Center it was beautiful and that the animals were in large comfortable habitats. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! While the cages weren’t all the barred concrete prisons of the past they are not much better. The enclosures we saw were small, there was nothing for the animals to do and if it distressing to see one animal after the other pacing the same well worn path I can’t imagine how the animal feels. Suicidal I’m sure. This is a disgusting way to treat animals! I know we have advanced in our treatment of captive animals but it appears that The Living Desert Zoo is stuck in the 1960’s.

There was very little education about the camp either. A small plaque telling visitors what sad animal they are looking at and how endangered they are is hardly teaching us anything. Google has much more.

Hold tight to your wallet as well. The tram is not free, riding the camels cost more money, the butterfly house was not included with the gate admission, the carousel wasn’t free, parents bring more money!

I would not set foot at this attraction again. I will confess that for the most part we only walked through North America. We had planned to see the whole zoo but we couldn’t stand the treatment of the animals we had seen. How man is top of the food chain is beyond me. No other “animal” treats animals the way we do.

This “zoo” needs to stop bringing in animals, let the ones there now live out their poor pathetic lives and concentrate on the turning the venue into a proper botanical gardens.
Written February 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Braceless45
Santa Barbara, CA96 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020 • Family
We enjoyed a morning at The Living Desert Zoo with our sons (both under 4 years). COVID protocols require masks for anyone over 3. We visited on a quiet Monday morning and didn’t have problems managing social distance from other visitors.

I don’t know how people appreciate this space when the temps are so high during the summer months. Even the 80-degree morning was tough on our little guys. You’ll find a little shade approaching the jaguar but otherwise the zoo is hot with little respite.

I found the provided map, signage, and pathways to be difficult to navigate. The zoo is also undergoing a lot of construction. I was hoping for the most efficient route to visit all the animals before my kids overheated. We circled around quite a bit. I can understand now why other people recommend the VIP tours which use vehicles to reduce your walking.

My preschooler wanted to watch the heavy machinery more than the animals! Because of the construction, a lot of animals are off exhibit. You may consider calling ahead if there is an animal you are particularly interested in seeing.

All that aside, the animal exhibits are spacious and attractive. The zoo has utilized the natural landscape of the area to their advantage. It was a bigger zoo than we expected. The zoo was also populated with a large number of friendly and helpful volunteers. Would recommend a visit.
Written October 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Makayla Muscat
Sydney, Australia360 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Friends
From Australia to Africa, the Living Desert Zoo is celebrating 50 years with animals from around the globe.

The giraffe feeding experience was a highlight. For only $7, guests can have a one-on-one encounter with these graceful giants. Selfies are encouraged, but a friend or family member is also welcome to photograph or video your animal encounter for no additional cost.

A visit was included in our Empire Vacations tour to Palm Springs. Due to a heavily booked schedule we unfortunately only had enough time to explore the Africa section of the zoo. It was relaxing, fun, and I'd love to return to experience the rest of The Living Desert Zoo.

Written January 22, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Fred L
San Jose, CA1,515 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
My family was in Palm Desert for Thanksgiving and on our last day there we decided to visit the Living Desert. It’s an awesome zoo where you will see animals that you will not see at other zoos (bald eagles, big horn sheep, fennec foxes, coyotes, bobcats and the list goes on). It also great to see that the majority these animals are in large open spaces. There are three areas 1) where the animals are,2) the gardens (mostly cactus gardens) and 3) an animal hospital. We hit the animal hospital as we were leaving but that ended up being our girl’s favorite attraction. The docent at the hospital was very nice and gave us a great tour. Bring your walking shoes because you will cover a lot of ground if you want to see everything. Also, it’s a little pricey. For a family of 4 it will cost you $80-$100. If you are a member of a zoo that's part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums you can get a discount ranging from %50 to 100%. Your Zoo should have information about the reciprocity program on the member area of their website. Overall, it’s a wonderful experience and would highly recommend it.
Written January 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

YYCGent
Calgary, Canada552 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Friends
This was our first visit and we were very impressed.

We went on a weekday and found the zoo to be quiet which was nice.

We loved how some animals were out of their homes and we could see them up close like the porcupines.

It was also a treat feeding the giraffes and seeing them up close.

We spent around 2.5 hours at the zoo and went at a moderate pace.

We found the admission to the zoo fair; however thought some of the add-ons could have been incorporated into the admission price, such as the butterfly enclosure. Mostly it was just inconvenient to pull out our credit cards several times while we were there.
Written February 14, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

geovaughnni
Palm Springs, CA433 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019 • Friends
We spent an adventurous day and evening at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. During the day, we saw many interesting animals of North America and Africa. In the evening, we saw the seasonally sensational light show in the park. We enjoyed our visit so much we became members. Helpful Hints: The Living Desert offers an evening Winemaker’s Dinner Series which features a winemaker, dinner and wine pairings. Your admission (or membership) also includes hiking in the Living Desert’s nature preserve with three trail loops.
Written January 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rebecca B
10 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020 • Family
We are zoo pros. Getting there was easy, parking was easy- no line, about 5 minutes to wait and get in. Lots of exhibits along the paths between the bigger animal attractions. The carousel was tiny but the characters were really awesome- great photo op. The gift shop had two penny presses! Bathrooms and water fountains were plenty and side paths with interesting plants were great but added some confusion on the most efficient walking route. Highly recommend packing a few bottles of water and snacks and plan for 2 hours plus walking, $25 per person was steep but the cheetahs, Bob cats and wolves were worth the visit. Oh! And there's a gigantic model train.
Written February 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

Frequently Asked Questions about The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is open:
  • Sun - Sat 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM




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