Contact Us

Located in Palm Desert and just 15 minutes from Palm Springs, The Living Desert's mission is desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation. Click here to become a member. Campers learn about plants and animals, the environment (including our own desert) and what it's like to work at a zoo Quarters for Conservation. Choose a Conservation Project and help protect wild animals and plants around the planet! You can become an important part of The Living Desert's conservation efforts through our Adopt! Program. Brew at the Zoo, Save the Date for the 5th Annual Brew at the Zoo!

Mailing Address

The Living Desert
47900 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Telephone:  760-346-5694
Fax:  760-568-9685


For general inquiries and comments, click here. To contact a particular department, please see our Departmental Directory below.

Departmental Directory

Main Number: 760-346-5694
DepartmentEmailExtension 2102
Adopt 2111 2216 2103
Development 2160
Education 2500
Events 2122
Finance 2140
Food Service 2300
Garden 2250
Gift Shops 2330
Graphics 2670
Group Sales 2123
Human Resources 2150
Maintenance 2404
Marketing 2610
Membership 2133
Planned Giving 2160
Public Relations 2610
Volunteers 2503



Allen Monroe


Allen Monroe has a background in environmental stewardship for conservation organizations, and brings a wealth of experience to effectively carry on The Living Desert's mission and legacy. "My experience in field research and working directly with animals transitioned into organizational leadership, but my passion has always been and remains environmental stewardship and engaging audiences with the conservation message," says Monroe. He has a 25 year-plus history in project management and business development within conservation organizations throughout the United States. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries from Texas A&M University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas. His previous work experience includes Director of the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores, Executive Director of the Capital of Texas Aquarium in Austin, Director of husbandry at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Curator at the Indianapolis Zoo, Zookeeper at the Fort Worth Zoo, as well as operating his own biological research consulting firm.


Peter Siminski

Peter Siminski

Peter Siminski is the Director of Conservation and Education at The Living Desert. For twenty years he was also the Curator of Mammalogy and Ornithology and the Director of Collections at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. He is best known for his work on Mexican wolf conservation. He is the coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan for the Mexican wolf and is the leader of the federal Mexican Wolf Recovery Team. Peter's conservation interests and activities also include the endangered peninsular pronghorn and the threatened desert tortoise.


Dwight Middendorf
Director of Finance


Dwight graduated from Arizona State University and has over 40 years of financial, tax and operational experience in both not-for-profit, for-profit and government entities. He also has domestic and international experiences having worked in large; medium and small entities.


Kerry Graves
Director of Park Services


Graves brings over 30 years of experience to The Living Desert, including two successful years at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Graves has also worked for several theme and entertainment attractions, including Medieval Times Entertainment, Hard Rock Park, and the Anheuser-Busch Theme Parks. As a results-driven executive level marketing professional, Graves excels in revenue improvements through strategic initiatives and effective brand management. His work experience is marked by strong sales growth, impactful consumer strategy, and developing and implementing innovative sales and marketing programs. He leads a wide range of park operations including admissions, membership, park attractions, marketing and events.


Bert Buxbaum


Bert Buxbaum came to The Living Desert in 2003. He brought his skills as a photographer and videographer to a professional level over many years of working at the Columbus Zoo and doing freelance work as well. Prior to working in the zoo world, Bert was, for 25 years, involved in textile and plastics manufacturing. He is the father of a daughter in San Francisco, a son in Chicago, and three grandsons. Bert is presently responsible for the systems and operations of the physical site at The Living Desert as well as continuing his role as managing the Graphics and Media Department


Ivy Lewis
Director of Development


BIO Coming Soon