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Wildlife Ranger Challenge Day

Dr. James Danoff-Burg, Director of Conservation/ September 21, 2021

Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to participate in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge! This month-long effort is designed to raise money to support the wildlife rangers who protect wildlife across Africa. COVID has of course stymied ecotourism to African countries. Many of these countries rely on these...

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Monday Minute - World Rhino Day

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ September 20, 2021

Here at The Living Desert, we are really rallying around restoring rhinos! As you may know, all five species of rhino that live around the world are threatened with extinction. Adding all rhinos that exist together results in fewer than 30,000 rhino in the entire world - and over 20,000 of...

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monday minute - Volunteers, Unique Conservation Partners

JJ Leissing, Director of Education Engagement/ September 13, 2021

As Agents of Conservation, our volunteers interpret the plants and animals at The Living Desert to inspire our guests to take conservation action. These passionate individuals share stories with our guests about the important conservation work that The Living Desert participates in both locally and...

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Monday Minute - Meet the neighbors: Small Mammals

Jared Moeller, Animal Care Curator/ September 6, 2021

In previous editions of the Monday Minute, you’ve been introduced to the animals that will call the large multi-species habitats of the Rhino Savanna home. This new expansion not only highlights the large charismatic ungulates and birds of arid ecosystems, but also some thrilling small mammals. Gu...

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Monday Minute - The Scoop on Poop

Mary Thomas, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ August 30, 2021

For our animals and plants, The Living Desert is a place of growth and reproduction. We care for many species, providing top-quality food for animals and resources as appropriate for plants. A consequence of all this biological activity is that we have lots of, um, biological waste products that we...

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Celebrate the African Painted Dog

Emily and Mary Thomas, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ August 23, 2021

  Happy African Painted Dog Day! Today we are celebrating this unique member of the Canidae family and one of our conservation partners, Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT), that strives to preserve them. Dr. Greg Rassmussen, founder and director of PDRT, has studied these talented hunters in Zi...

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Monday Minute - Matchmaking at the Zoo

RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care/ August 23, 2021

Zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) are committed to ensuring species do not go extinct from the planet. They collectively utilize some of their resources to ensure there are self-sustainable populations of animals. This cooperation among zoos strengthens the gen...

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A fulbright award

August 19, 2021

Our own Dr. James Danoff-Burg, Director of Conservation, has received a second Fulbright Specialist Award, this time to help improve ranger training in South Africa! These extremely competitive Fulbright Awards (only 400 are awarded annually) are the flagship international educational exch...

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Monday Minute - Rhino Roadtrip

Erin Scott, Senior Manager, Brand, Marketing and Public Relations/ August 16, 2021

Last month, we had the amazing opportunity to fly to the Midwest to meet The Living Desert’s newest residents, Jaali and Nia! Equipped with our cameras, notebooks, and smiles, we embarked The Living Desert’s first Rhino Roadtrip! Bright and early on a hot July morning and filled with antic...

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Monday Minute - Partners in Conservation: ZooTeens

Larson Ankeny/ August 9, 2021

It’s never too early to become an agent of conservation! I have always been interested in animals and have vivid memories of every year asking my family to take me to the zoo for my birthday. I was fascinated by the diverse animals, enthralled by the exciting shows, and inspired by the animal keep...

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Monday Minute - Scouts Save Species

Dr. James Danoff-Burg, Director of Conservation/ July 26, 2021

Participating in Scouting has improved the lives of many of us. I can say with great certainty that a big part of why I am such an ardent conservationist, outdoors person, and all-around lover of nature is due to the decade I spent in Boy Scouts as a youth. Girl Scouts build girls of courage, confid...

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Raven populations are thriving in the Coachella Valley. This is perilous for local wildlife

Sonora Walton, Conservation Intern/ July 24, 2021

The California desert ravens were once occasional occupants of the Coachella Valley. In the past we were merely a stop for them on their migrating path. However, their population has grown seventeen times larger within the last fifty years and most now occupy the Coachella Valley as their permanent...

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Local Zoo Helps an Eagle

Antonio Catanzarite, Eagle Scout, formerly of Troop 276/ July 24, 2021

Like many Boy Scouts, the challenge of finding an Eagle Scout Project was daunting and stressful for me. It was the only thing standing between me and the Eagle Scout rank--the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America and an honor I had been chasing for 7 years. To make matters worse, I had to comp...

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Monday Minute - Celebrating Zookeepers and Beyond

Erin Scott, Senior Manager, Brand, Marketing, and Public Relations/ July 19, 2021

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to participate in the annual National Zookeeper Week, now through Saturday, July 24. This is a time where we take a concerted moment to share our appreciation for the incredible passion, expertise, and hard work of our amazing animal care profes...

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Where Did You Get That Plant? - The Threats of Illegal Plant Poaching

Natalie Gonzalez, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ July 19, 2021

You may be aware that a walk through the Zoo will put you face to face with animals that are imperiled by wildlife poaching and trafficking, but did you know, a walk through our gardens will do the same? While we are largely aware that animals are commonly poached for parts that are valued for perce...

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Signs of Nature: Leading Coachella Valley Communities to Nearby Nature

Alex Ocañas, Conservation Social Scientist/ July 19, 2021

For decades, communities across the world have been suffering through what some call an ‘extinction of experience’ as opportunities for interaction with nature are steeply declining. Considering the well-documented benefits we reap from interactions with nature, such as improved physical, emotio...

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Monday Minute - Meet the neighbors: The Antelope

Jared Moeller, Animal Care Curator/ July 5, 2021

The $17 million Rhino Savanna is a new and exciting way to care for and engage people with some of the world’s most interesting species. The centerpiece of this expansion is the large, four-acre multi-species habitat. One goal of the Rhino Savanna is to give both guests and the resident animals th...

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Monday Minute - Keeping Cool in the Desert

RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care/ June 28, 2021

How do the animals at The Living Desert stay cool during our extremely hot temperatures in the summer? This is often a question we find ourselves answering every year as the thermometer lingers in the triple digits. As many of you know, The Living Desert is dedicated to the desert species...

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Monday Minute - World Giraffe Day

RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care/ June 21, 2021

June 21st is known for being the start of summer and the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. For us, here at The Living Desert, this date marks the day we celebrate our longest-necked animals that call the zoo home, the giraffe. Today is World Giraffe Day, a worldwide celebra...

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Monday Minute - Get ready for Pollinator Week

Natalie Gonzalez/ June 14, 2021

Next week - June 21st-27th - is pollinator week! This is a week where we give extra gratitude to pollinators and the life they support. Pollinators are essential for ecosystem health, as 80% of flowering plants depend on pollinators for reproduction. When pollinators visit flowers in search of...

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Monday Minute - This is how we Zoo it

Erin Scott, Senior Manager, Brand, Marketing and Public Relations/ June 7, 2021

We did it! Thanks to you for all of your support, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens placed #7 in the USA Today 10Best Botanical Gardens. Our first time placing in this category! Although we didn’t place in the top 10 for the USA Today’s 10Best Best Zoo category, we still feel like the...

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Monday Minute - Enriching Experiences

Christine Montgomery, Animal Care Curator/ May 31, 2021

As the sun rises over the San Jacinto Mountains, the animal care team at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is hard at work setting up for the day in ways you might not expect. A cut branch of acacia is being hung high for the giraffes, basil is being spread around for the bobcats, and the sound of...

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Monday Minute - Rhinos are crashing the neighborhood this fall

Erin Scott, Senior Manager, Brand, Marketing and Public Relations/ May 24, 2021

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is thrilled to announce the names and details about the Coachella Valley’s newest neighbors arriving this November – two eastern black rhinos. As the Zoo’s new Rhino Savanna nears completion, The Living Desert is eager to share more about the two eastern black...

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Monday Minute -The Sixth Extinction: Endangered Species Day

Lou Thomas, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ May 17, 2021

This Friday, May 21st, is Endangered Species Day! Currently, the rate at which species are going extinct is 10,000 times greater than it was prior to the 1880s. The Living Desert works to conserve threatened and endangered species around the world, however, we are stronger with a larg...

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Monday Minute - Amazing Animal Moms

RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care/ May 10, 2021

Yesterday, we celebrated our moms. Whether it was reflecting on fond memories, zooming through separated miles or sharing a meal together, we all can be thankful for our moms for bringing us into this world and for countless ways they have supported us throughout our lives. The cleaning up afte...

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Monday Minute - Rhinos are coming

Dr. James Danoff-Burg, Director of Conservation/ May 3, 2021

This Wednesday we celebrate Cinco de Rhino with others around the world in sharing about these amazing creatures and supporting rhino conservation. This is especially important to us at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens as we prepare the Rhino Savanna and ready it to welcome our own crash of rhinos...

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Monday Minute - USA Today's 10Best Reader's Choice Trail Award

Erin Scott, Senior Manager Brand, Marketing and Public Relations/ April 26, 2021

We’re excited to share that The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens has been nominated for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Trail Award in two categories: Best Botanical Garden and Best Zoo. Voting is open now through May 24! Being nominated for Best Zoo in the Readers’ Choice Travel Awards...

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Monday Minute - Earth Day Celebration

Alex Ocañas, Conservation Social Scientist/ April 19, 2021

  As our Conservation Social Scientist, Alex Ocañas helps our conservation programs understand, navigate, and empower the human dimensions of conservation. She helps ensure our efforts work with and for people, who are the most critical component of successful wildlife conservation. ...

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Monday Minute - The Living Desert Partners with KultureCity to Launch a Sensory Inclusive™ Program.

Kathy Lambert, Senior Manager Guest Relations/ April 12, 2021

Kathy Lambert is the Senior Manager of Guest Services at The Living Desert. Her team is responsible for Admissions, Membership, Attractions and all Guest Services, including the launch of many accessibility initiatives such as the partnership with KultureCity. Their goal is to provide a Wonderf...

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Monday Minute - Caring for Our Animals in their Golden Years.

RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care/ April 5, 2021

Roxanna Breitigan is the Director of Animal Care at The Living Desert. She is responsible for overseeing the Australian, African and North American animal sections, including the new upcoming Rhino Savanna, veterinary care, nutrition, wildlife programs and outreach. Quiz time: What is the number on...

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Salt Creek Restoration- Species Identification and Seed Collection

Natalie Gonzalez, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ April 2, 2021

When planning for habitat restoration for a site that has been taken over by invasive plant species, revegetating with native species can both facilitate the reestablishment of the native plant community and suppress invasive species regrowth after removal. The presence of invasive species in an eco...

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Salt Creek Restoration- Plant Propagation

Natalie Gonzalez, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ April 2, 2021

To begin propagating the seed collected from Salt Creek, we first determined if any seed prep would be required. We know that different species of plants depend on different environmental factors to cue germination. Depending on what natural environmental factors seeds must experience to signal germ...

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Monday Minute - Your Support Saves Species!

Lexi Ward, Annual Giving Officer/ March 29, 2021

  As the Annual Giving Officer, Lexi Ward oversees year-round fundraising through the Annual Appeal, Guardian Society Membership Circles, and Champions of Conservation monthly giving programs. The Living Desert has been active in the conservation of desert species since its founding in 1970,...

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Monday Minute - 2021 Spring Zoo Camps are going virtual!

JJ Leissing, Director of Education/ March 22, 2021

  As the Director of Education Engagement, JJ Leissing oversees volunteers and educational programs at The Living Desert since 2021. Zoos and aquariums can help create meaningful connections that enhance the public’s understanding of the need to conserve the places wh...

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Monday Minute - A Conversation on Desert Pupfish and the Salton Sea

Kyle Mulroe, Conservation Biologist and Natalie Gonzalez, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ March 15, 2021

  As a conservation biologist, Kyle Mulroe uses tools of biology and engineering for the conservation of wildlife at The Living Desert since 2019. Natalie Gonzalez, Assistant Conservation Scientist, joined The Living Desert in 2020 with a degree in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolu...

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Monday Minute - Saving Coachella Valley Species

James Danoff-Burg, Director of Conservation/ March 8, 2021

Visiting a zoo can be a great way to connect with nature, but did you know that when you visit a facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums - and of course The Living Desert in particular - you're also directly supporting conservation initiatives? I recently gav...

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Monday Minute - Let's celebrate World Wildlife Day

Amy Crabb, Senior Manager Development/ March 1, 2021

Every day at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens we celebrate the wildlife of deserts close to home and around the globe. Deserts are a magical place of hidden treasure and splendid beauty if only we take the time to quietly wait, wonder, and discover the secrets they hold. World Wildlife Day, held o...

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Monday Minute - Western Monarchs Need Your Help

Natalie Gonzalez, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ February 22, 2021

Danaus plexippus, which in Greek means "sleepy transformation," is one of the most iconic insects in North America. Danaus plexippus is the scientific name for our national insect, the monarch butterfly! However, there is nothing “sleepy...

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Monday Minute - A Step Into Desert Plant Conservation

Emily Thomas & Natalie Gonzalez, Assistant Conservation Scientists/ February 15, 2021

The preservation of desert species, animals and plants alike, is a vital part of The Living Desert’s mission of desert conservation. Nestled across from the pronghorn habitat, a new exhibit hosts some of the thousands of desert plants propagated by The Living Desert staff and volunteers each year...

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Monday Minute - Education in the Time of COVID

Elise Shtayyeh, Education Program Coordinator/ February 8, 2021

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens’ commitment to education remains steadfast despite the year’s changes due to COVID. With schools going virtual and buses parked, The Living Desert took the opportunity to adapt and change the way we engage with schools, educators, and students.  The Challe...

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Monday Minute - Celebrating International Zebra Day

Mary Thomas, Assistant Conservation Scientist/ February 1, 2021

In celebration of International Zebra Day (1/31), The Living Desert is excited to highlight one of our esteemed conservation partners, the Grevy’s Zebra Trust. Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) are the largest of three sub-species of zebra. Native to Kenya and Ethiopia, Grevy’s zebra are the m...

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The Once and Future Sonoran Pond

Kyle Mulroe, Conservation Biologist/ February 1, 2021

  At full capacity, The Living Desert’s Sonoran Pond—which homes the endangered desert pupfish—could once hold more than 140,000 gallons of water over 14,000 square feet of surface area. However, years of overgrowth of an invasive species of cattail choked the pond and restricted its cap...

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Salt creek restoration - Tamarisk Warriors

Kyle Mulroe, TLD Conservation Biologist/ January 25, 2021

Lucky for myself and The Living Desert, two of our intern-turned Conservation Department staff members happen to be born and raised ranchers. Mary and Emily (or Lou we call her) Thomas are as field ready as they come, complete with a passion for conservation and years of hands on experience using ch...

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Salt creek restoration - Planning Phase Of The Restoration

Kyle Mulroe, TLD Conservation Biologist/ January 24, 2021

There are very few places left around the Salton Sea where the desert pupfish can be found in the wild. Drying of natural aquifers, increasing salinity of the Salton Sea, competition from invasive species such as sailfin mollies, crayfish, golden apple snails and tamarisk – each of these changes a...

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Salt creek restoration - Why restore Salt Creek?

Kyle Mulroe, TLD Conservation Biologist/ January 23, 2021

One of the exciting parallels to the work we do conserving species on grounds here at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is working to conserve species living in their native environments. One local example of our combined ex situ and in situ approach has been the conservation of the desert pupfish b...

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Community Science to the Rescue

Mary Thomas and Emily Thomas/ October 29, 2020

Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) is an organization based in Kenya that takes a holistic approach to Grevy’s zebra conservation. One of GZT’s many projects is a non-invasive method of wildlife monitoring referred to as camera trapping. This system utilizes game cameras to observe wildl...

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Tortoise Week

Alex Ocanas/ October 23, 2020

The second week of October was ‘Desert Tortoise Week’, where institutions like The Living Desert, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Joshua Tree National Park, to name just a few, band together to celebrate and promote the conservation of the iconic and beloved desert tortoise (Gopherus agass...

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Zoom Backgrounds

April 29, 2020

If you miss ZOOing, but you've been doing a lot of ZOOMing, make your next meeting a little more wonderfully wild with our free background images. How to Use These Zoo Zoom Virtual Backgrounds From the options below, select the background you wish to download. Click the...

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Pupdate #4

April 29, 2020

In an effort to continue sharing the important conservation efforts behind saving this endangered species, the selection of names come from a list of African National Parks. At one time, it was estimated African wild dogs roamed in large numbers in 39 countries across Africa; however, today, the spe...

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A re-nesting guide

Emma Baldwin/ April 20, 2020

Coexisting with Nature and Wildlife Cottontail Rabbits:  Cottontail rabbit nests are shallow depressions on the ground, covered with soft plant material and lined with fur from the mother rabbit. They are well-hidden and are meant to keep the babies undiscovered by predators. The mo...

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50 Things to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day with The Living Desert on our 50th Anniversary

April 15, 2020

It may seem like the actions of one person will not make a difference to help conservation. However, as Jane Goodall has said “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” If we all do what we can, we will be able to make a real difference to...

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Pupdate #3

February 21, 2020

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to share that all 11 critically endangered African wild dog puppies, born January 18, 2020, are healthy and thriving. On Wednesday, February 18th, the animal care and veterinary teams performed a routine well-baby exam and learned there are seven males an...

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Pupdate #2

February 13, 2020

At three weeks old, the 11 puppies are now around 2.5 - 3.5lbs and growing! They are also scooting and moving around the den–when they’re not sleeping or nursing, of course. Mom, Beatrix, has begun to introduce them to the rest of the pack. This is an exciting time in the puppies’ development...

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Pupdate #1

January 28, 2020

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is proud to announce the healthy birth of 11 endangered African wild dog puppies to second-time parents, Beatrix and Kiraka (ker-ah-kuh). In the comfort of a private, underground birthing den, the puppies were born in the afternoon and evening of Saturday, January 1...

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…and it’s a wrap!

Dr. James A. Danoff-Burg/ November 7, 2019

Well, after a very hot week, we have successfully completed our Zimbabwe social sciences workshop. Thank goodness that we had at least two days with ample rain to cool things down a bit overnight. There was a third evening with rain, but it was too little to make any difference. All of us were grate...

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We Are the World, Zimbabwe Edition

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ November 6, 2019

After a really successful workshop in Botswana last week, I am here in Zimbabwe for workshop two! The closest town is Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, or across the bridge across the chasm that forms the incredibly beautiful Victoria Falls, is Livingstone, Zambia. However, we are deep into the bush, and we...

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Reducing Rancher-Predator Conflict

Dr. James A. Danoff-Burg/ November 5, 2019

In my last post, I discussed how climate change is already manifesting in many desert locations, and here in Botswana in particular. As a general rule, dry areas will get drier with climate change, including in Southern California as well as here in Botswana.   Currently, the flood of water t...

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Botswana Wildlife, Climate Change, and Ranching

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ November 4, 2019

Some of my favorite ideas have come when I am “relaxing”, even though I am not particularly skilled at doing so. Long runs, bike rides, or swims are often the venues for my best thinking. I don’t drive that much, so long drives usually are not. However, during my most recent long drive I reall...

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A Great Success, Despite Some Small Challenges

Dr. James A. Danoff-Burg/ November 3, 2019

Dumela e le amogetswe! Or, hello and welcome all, in Setswana!   Last Friday, we finished up our first weeklong workshop in Maun, Botswana as a great success, with some small caveats. These workshops help teach conservationists how to find out information from their local communities to impro...

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Can a People be Predisposed to Social Sciences?

Dr. James A. Danoff-Burg/ November 2, 2019

Whew! Today was really great. The assembly of the survey items went really well and the test run of the interviews – a pilot test of sorts – were raucous and great fun. However, one part of our social science training workshops that is always challenging, was surprisingly easy today. Facility wi...

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A Dry and Dusty Place, Brimming with Kindness

Dr. James A. Danoff-Burg/ November 1, 2019

Greetings and Dumela (hello!) from Beautiful Botswana.   I’ve traveled around the world, from West to East, and North to South, comprising almost 40 hours of transit time. I’m here in Botswana to be able to offer the first of two weeklong workshops here in southern Africa. Next week, I w...

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Pupdate #8

July 2, 2019

The 2,000+ votes are in and the winner is…. Mikumi! Our female African wild dog puppy now has a name thanks to you! The puppies are named: - Mikumi (me-KOO-mee) - Chobe (cho-beh) - Arli (ar-lee) - Zakouma (za-koo-ma) - Faro (Far-oh) - Digya (dig-yah) Each puppy’s name plays homage to African...

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Pupdate #7

June 27, 2019

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is asking for the public’s help in selecting a name for one of the six African wild dogs that were born at the Zoo on April 24, 2019. The poll, which can be found on the Zoo’s Facebook page, is open to the public and voting is available through Monday, July 1. T...

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Pupdate #6

June 19, 2019

The puppies are now 8 weeks old and have begun to venture out of the den. At this age, they are rough playing, running, and very curious. They are also weaning and being fed by their parents regurgitating food. Beatrix and Kiraka have done an amazing job...

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Pupdate #5

May 24, 2019

5/24/2019 PUPDATE The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to share that all six puppies, born April 24, 2019 are healthy and thriving. Today, May 24th, the animal care and veterinary teams performed a routine well-baby exam and learned there are five male puppies and one female puppy in the li...

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Ah, the Challenges of Fieldwork

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ May 24, 2019

Over the last four posts, I’ve been talking about the two workshops and all that we did in them to train these groups of conservation biologists in Kenya and Tanzania how to find out what the communities surrounding their projects think. In this penultimate post, I wanted to brag a bit – not abo...

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Tanzanians are Among the Nicest People You Will Ever Meet

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ May 22, 2019

  The last three days were some of the most challenging and exciting and invigorating days of my professional career. We just finished the workshop phase of our second workshop – this time in Arusha, Tanzania, working with some of the finest people I have yet met.   The two organizat...

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Lewa Conservancy Benefits Wildlife by Working with Communities

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ May 21, 2019

In my previous posts introducing the concept and describing the outcome of the Kenyan workshop, I have been speaking generally about our approach. In this post, I would like to highlight a great example of our impact by one of our workshop participants that is also a world-leading conservation organ...

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Kenyan Conservationists are World Leaders

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ May 17, 2019

Well, that was amazing! I just completed the first workshop with 28 people from 10 different Kenyan conservation organizations, all in the shadow of Mount Kenya. I do not know that I would normally call a workshop thrilling, but I may make an exception here. Thrilling! Kenyan conservation biologists...

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Pupdate #4

May 10, 2019

5/10/2019 PUPDATE The African wild dog is a member of the dag family, Canidae. They are related to jackals, foxes, coyotes, wolves and dingoes.  While hyeneas may look similar, they are of a different family classification, Hyaenidae. African wild dogs have a number of different...

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Building Community Conservation Success in East Africa

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ May 7, 2019

Jambo wanawake na wanaume - or, hello ladies and gents in Swahili!   Mike Chedester (Director of Education at The Living Desert) and I have arrived in Nairobi, Kenya safely and smoothly last night, despite landing and driving through a torrential downpour. David, our driver was much calmer an...

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Pupdate #3

May 5, 2019

5/5/2019 PUPDATE The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to announce the healthy birth of six endangered African wild dog puppies to first-time parents, Beatrix and Kiraka. In the comfort of a private, underground birthing den, the puppies were born on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. African wild...

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Pupdate #2

May 3, 2019

5/3/2019 PUPDATE Expectant wild dog mothers select and prepare a den/burrow a few days to a few weeks before giving birth. Gestation is approximately 70 days. After whelping (giving birth), the mother stays within the den for the first few days with the puppies. The breeding male and other pack-mat...

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Pupdate #1

May 2, 2019

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is excited to announce the healthy birth of six endangered African wild dog puppies to first-time parents, Beatrix and Kiraka (ker-ah-kuh). In the comfort of a private, underground birthing den, the puppies were born in the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, April...

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Wildflower Season

Kirk Anderson/ February 27, 2019

The rains have come, transforming the Valley’s arid environs with a green veneer of ephemeral growth.   A mid-October rain coupled with continued warm temperatures perked up perennials like creosote (Larrea tridentata) and initiated the germination of annuals on The Living Desert’s Edmu...

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Cetacean Conservation with JDB - Day 3

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ December 21, 2018

Progress?   I generally find it hard to really identify progress at the end of multi-day sessions when we have been talking non-stop. When we come to the end of the designated time, clearly an artificial stoppage point, it feels like we have only begun, not that we have just finished. It is a...

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Cetacean Conservation with JDB - Day 2

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ December 18, 2018

Can’t We All Just Get Along? When it comes to conserving endangered species, we all agree, but we also do not agree. We agree on the long-term goal – that of conserving endangered small cetaceans (vaquita, dolphins, and relatives). Everyone agrees at the Ex Situ Options for Cetacean Conservati...

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Cetacean Conservation with JDB - Day 1

Dr. James Danoff-Burg/ December 15, 2018

Conservation, Care, and Breeding of the Vaquita and other Endangered Cetaceans Well. After five countries, five flights (two more than planned), an unexpected overnight stay in Brussels, a train, a bus, and a slew of taxis, I'm finally at the Ex Situ Options for Cetacean Conservation workshop here...

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On the Road with RoxAnna – 8

RoxAnna Breitigan/ July 23, 2018

This past couple of weeks has been challenging but we have kept a positive attitude even without knowing what was in store for us. For most of our time here, we were uncertain if we would be able to accomplish our mission and we tried to not feel defeated. It was also helpful that we had each other...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - 7

RoxAnna Breitigan/ July 23, 2018

Field conservation can be defined as action that helps secure the long-term survival of species in its natural ecosystems and habitats. Projects in the field can be to recover a species, coordinate veterinary care for disease issues, create assurance populations, research, increase community awarene...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - 6

RoxAnna Breitigan/ July 23, 2018

As the time passes in the desert, many topics come and go. The concept of animals being happy has been one of the many that have been discussed here. The definition according to Websters dictionary for happiness is, "a state of well-being or contentment or a pleasurable, satisfying experience." Do a...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - 5

RoxAnna Breitigan/ July 18, 2018

Sleeping in the middle of the desert in a tent under the stars hearing the sounds of the night is not always the best way to fall asleep. You hear noises and if you are not familiar with the area, you do your best to decipher the sounds of the night instead of trying to fall asleep. The heat is so i...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - 4

RoxAnna Breitigan/ July 18, 2018

The delay has made us rethink how we spend our days. While we wait for the collars there is only so much we can do around camp. The pens have been set up, the oryx have been moved to where they need to be and the supplies have been accounted for. Now all we can do is wait. We have gone out several t...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - 3

RoxAnna Breitigan/ July 16, 2018

The first time I laid eyes on the Scimitar-horned oryx out in the wild was a remarkable feeling. Goosebumps moment, for sure! To see an animal that was gone from its rangeland and now be returned is an incredible feeling. If nobody had bothered or cared enough to put forth a plan to save this animal...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - 2

RoxAnna Breitigan/ July 16, 2018

Although the trek was long to base camp and we had lots of hiccups along the way, the best part was that we were able to see so much of the country. To make it even better, Chad is in the beginning of the rainy season and they have already had some rain. This meant much of the country has beautiful,...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - 1

RoxAnna Breitigan/ July 16, 2018

I began this adventure from LAX international terminal, I had no issues except that we already had heard there would be a delay with the project that I was going to participate in as I boarded. I met up with others traveling for this project at the Paris airport. Once we were all together we began t...

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India with JDB - 9

June 19, 2018

Ah, well. After a wonderful 6 weeks in India working with the very impressive Applied Environmental Research Foundation based out of Pune, I am home. Travel to India is rarely quick and comfortable, involving multiple 10 hour plus flights and frequently long layovers in between. In fact, I had one o...

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India with JDB - 8

June 12, 2018

A decade or two ago a friend of mine was thinking about writing a book with a working title of “What’s In It For Me: A Selfish Person’s Guide to Caring About the Environment.” I doubt that he was going to use that title – talk about a way to kill sales of a book! Insulting the intended aud...

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India with JDB - 7

June 7, 2018

With only a few exceptions, most conservation activities focused on protecting ecosystems (as opposed to species) that happen in India happen with the government declaring protected areas and removing the people from the land. This approach is modeled on how National Parks are created in Wester...

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India with JDB – 6

June 4, 2018

Just after I had tucked in to read for a bit before sleep, I got a Whatsapp message from Akshay saying “Dr. James we are coming to (your) hotel in 15 min to discuss something…is it okay?” Thankfully I didn’t say what I was thinking, and instead said yes, please come over for a quick chat. W...

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India with JDB – 5

May 31, 2018

I have rarely seen as quiet and respectful a community gathering as tonight. The Applied Environmental Research Foundation and I visited a small rural tribal community of indigenous people (collectively referred to as Adivasi) in the foothills of the Western Ghats, with an aim to encourage them to a...

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India with JDB - 4

May 24, 2018

Often, you come into a situation expecting something, and after being there for a while, it turns out you were right, but not-right at the same time. The last week and a half that I have been working with the conservation researchers at the Applied Environmental Research Foundation in India has been...

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India with JDB - 3

May 21, 2018

Finally, my flu seems to be clearing, and just in time. I will need a clear head, as we will start grappling in earnest with helping to build scientific and theoretical capacity among young conservationists in India! Whew! I thought that I would be incapacitated by this stupid illness, but it does n...

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India with JDB - 2

May 21, 2018

India is an assault on the senses. Almost everything that I am familiar with in my wide travels are more intense here: the spicing on the food, the chaos of the driving, the intensity of the smells, the kindness and generosity of the people, the beauty of the women’s saris, the peace to be fo...

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India with JDB - 1

May 21, 2018

Well, here we go again! I am away from our beloved facility at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens on another lengthy trip, this time to Incredible India for a six-week partnership working with the Applied Environmental Research Foundation (AERF). The goal of our Fulbright Program sponsored project i...

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Helping Rhinos with JDB - 5

February 16, 2018

A day ago, I had one of the highlights of my professional career, something that I have long read about in African adventure books: I had dinner and a game drive with an African Chief and his Royal Family. And, more importantly, it was a transformative experience in what has been a massively transfo...

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Helping Rhinos with JDB - 4

February 8, 2018

Well, we have really done it now! We’ve been here in South Africa for four weeks, working non-stop, and I am really happy to say we are done! All told, we have completed 151 individual interviews about the social impact of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit program – and we have even entered ne...

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Helping Rhinos with JDB - 3

February 8, 2018

Today The Living Desert made possible a small but important change that furthers conservation, just by buying some extremely artistic batik bags! I’m not one that is quick to tears, but I definitely welled up a bit today! Okay, more than a bit. We do conservation in many ways at The Living Desert...

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Pathways Africa with Mike - Day Seven

February 8, 2018

It’s been 15 years I’ve inspired to visit Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia. After attending the Pathways Africa Conference was the perfect opportunity. Founded in 1990, CCF is a non-profit organization, a cheetah sanctuary, overlooking the ecologically diverse Waterburg Plateau. CCF is...

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Helping Rhinos with JDB - 2

January 19, 2018

Well, we’ve now officially been here in South Africa for just a bit over one week, and I cannot believe how much we have been able to accomplish in this relatively short time! Amazingly, we have completed all the interviews for two of the four projects that we had planned to complete while here. I...

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Pathways Africa with Mike - Day Five & Six

January 18, 2018

And on the Fifth and sixth day... After an amazing week of the Pathways Conference and a day spent with GCF staff, it’s the weekend and I’m heading south to Sossusvlei. On the 400 km journey it’s evident of the deep diversity and natural beauty of the Namibian landscape. On the route through R...

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Pathways Africa with Mike - Day Four

January 18, 2018

Today I was witness to a school field trip program like no other. Some of you may have meet Julian Fennessy, Co. Founder and Co. Director of The Giraffe Conservation Foundation, based in Namibia. Julian was one of our conservation speakers in October for our “Year of the Giraffe” campaign. The L...

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Helping Rhinos with JDB

January 12, 2018

The vervet monkeys woke me again today. They are simultaneously adorable and infuriating, inquisitive and terrified, quiet and racket making – a bundle of contradictions, but that is also the nature of doing conservation work in Africa. I am here in South Africa for five weeks to lead a team of r...

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Pathways Africa with Mike - Day Three

January 11, 2018

With a light rain falling on Windhoek and after a hearty breakfast at 6:30am it’s time for day two of conservation training. The training commenced with a lecture on Land Tenure and Management, presented by Kelly Stoner, associate Conservation Scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Kell...

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Pathways Africa with Mike - Day Two

January 11, 2018

Today, as part of the Pathways training 45 participants we visited the fame of Ulf-Dieter Voight, owner of Krumhun farms. His family have been cattle farmers since 1909. In 1996 he changed Krumhuk to biodynamic farming with their community developing different production lines and processing their o...

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Pathways Africa with Mike - Day One

January 8, 2018

After a 30 hour journey through Airports and daunting security checks, I’ve arrived in Windhoek, Namibia for the Pathways Africa Conference. Pathways is a conference and training program esigned to address the myriad of issues that arise as people and wildlife struggle to coexist in a sustainable...

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Tanzania with Mike - Day Six

September 11, 2017

Jambo and Asante, thank you and hello are the key words to learn prior to you journey to Tanzania. Tanzanians are friendly and welcoming, and it’s nice to be too. The food is fantastic, beef, chicken and fish for us carnivores and plenty of fresh vegetables. The wildlife viewing is amazing, and to...

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Tanzania with Mike - Day Five

September 11, 2017

After yesterday’s sightings of cheetah and realizing that only 11 resided in the park, I was ready to look for them again in the same location. Up at the crack of dawn, Boni and I setout to the site along the Tangirie River we saw them last. Along the way, laying next to its borrow was the fuzzies...

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Tanzania with Mike - Day Four

September 9, 2017

Today I’m pick-up at my hotel very early by Boniface Veshut. Boni is a naturalist that works with WNI. We drove to Tarangire National Park. Over the next few days Boni will escort me the field for viewing wildlife and conservation in the home range of some of Africa’s big five and more. Tarangi...

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Tanzania with Mike - Day Three

September 9, 2017

The Wild Nature institute has developed a new children's book, which is the core to their giraffe-themed conservation education project. Juma the Giraffe is the second in an ongoing series of children’s educational materials produced by the Wild Nature Institute that teach ecological and social le...

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Tanzania with Mike - Day Two

September 7, 2017

This morning plans changed, our classroom visit have been postponed for a day, due to an unexpected government school testing program. Being flexible is very important, and that’s just what Monica Bond and Derek Lee, founders of the Wild Nature Institute are. Instead we visited the PANS foundation...

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Tanzania with Mike - Day One

September 6, 2017

Today I’m flying to Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania, via Amsterdam. There wasn’t a direct flight from Palm Springs International! Over the next week I’ll be sharing on-going conservation and education action The Living Desert supports through the WNI (Wild Nature Institute) in Tanz...

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On the Road with RoxAnna – Day 10

May 10, 2017

Today is my travel day home from this long adventure, back to California I go.  This will be the last post in this series.  I hope you have enjoyed going on this adventure with me.  It was quite the experience and I am coming home with lots of stories.  Traveling to new places is...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - Day 9

May 9, 2017

Last day in Senegal, Africa included a quite long bus ride, one interesting pit stop, a lovely fresh fish lunch and lots of hugs good byes to new and old friends.  The goodbyes were more like until we see you again or I will email you.  I felt privileged to be around these minds this week,...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - Day 8

May 7, 2017

I thought today I would list out a bunch of things that have been note-worthy or curious about being in Senegal. Here it goes: TV is in French.- My francais is better but I will keep practicing. It’s still better than my Spanish. Money is in CIFA- I am not even sure I am spelling that right....

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On the Road with RoxAnna - Day 7

May 6, 2017

We humans are a funny species   Traveling to places you have never been before can be exciting, inspiring and enlightening. Seeing and experiencing other cultures gives you a whole new outlook on the world, life and humans. We tend to get wrapped up in our little bubbles and just see our littl...

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On the Road with RoxAnna – Day 6

May 5, 2017

If not us, then who? The Sahelo-Saharan region is a part of the world that most people don’t know about and is a very harsh environment. Which in my book makes the animals that live there some of the toughest species on the planet. Against many odds they survive and can thrive in this environment...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - Day 5

May 4, 2017

Trek across Senegal This morning we left Dakar and traveled for over four hours to Saint Louis, another coastal town in Senegal. As we drove across the landscape it became very apparent we were in a different world. The culture and concepts are so very different than what I am used to. These travel...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - Day 4

May 3, 2017

Senegal We went on a day trip today to a Reserve where some of the rarest Giant Eland live. An eland is an antelope in case you were wondering. There were many other species of antelope plus some giraffe, zebra and a couple of rhino. One of the most amazing sights were the amount of Baobab trees. T...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - Day 3

May 2, 2017

Senegal- on the coast of West Africa   We all have a story, don’t we? We all have family, friends, experiences that got us to where we are today. This is a common thread among humanity. We all have a story. Today I saw many different people, some Seneglalese, some tourists, some colleagues a...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - Day 2

May 1, 2017

Landed in Madrid. Third airport and 6000 miles later, still on the road. Nothing like a 9 hour layover to get you thinking. So many faces, so many destinations, so many stories. People rushing, people sauntering, people even sleeping. Somebody is always coming and somebody is always going. One thin...

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On the Road with RoxAnna - Day 1

May 1, 2017

Here I go… I am at the first of many airports I will be in for the next 26 hours. I am on my way to Senegal which is on the western coast of Africa. While I have worked with many African species over the years, I have never actually stepped on the continent. To my close friends I have been referr...

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