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Celebrating 50 Years of Adventure
Speaker and Lecture Series at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. Speaker and Lecture Series at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

Speaker Series and Classes

Conservation Speaker Series

Learn from the experts. This enlightening Conservation Speaker Series highlights programs and projects The Living Desert supports through financial contributions, partnerships and more. We’re proud to bring world-renowned experts, researchers, biologists, and conservationists to share their stories and experiences about conservation projects happening around the world.

The Living Desert's Speaker Series is free to attend and is held at the Rancho Mirage Library located at 71-100 Highway 111.

Upcoming Lectures:

30 Years of Cheetah Conservation

Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF)

Monday, April 6  |  10:00 AM
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Monday, April 6  |  1:00 PM
Rancho Mirage Public Library located at 71-100 Highway 111

Please join Dr. Laurie Marker in her celebration of 30 years of cheetah conservation during her spring tour 2020. Dr. Marker will highlight how CCF has helped to stabilize the cheetah population in Namibia and in other cheetah range areas to secure the species in the wild.

Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), is a conservation biologist recognized as one of the world’s leading cheetah experts. She began working with cheetahs at Oregon’s Wildlife Safari in 1974, and in 1977 initiated pioneering in situ research in Namibia. Dr. Marker’s early work helped identify the species’ lack of genetic diversity. In Namibia, she learned that livestock farmers were killing hundreds of cheetahs annually as a perceived threat, setting the stage for her career-long research into cheetah biology, ecology, and conservation strategies to mitigate conflict. In 1990, Dr. Marker left her role as Executive Director of NOAHS Center at the Smithsonian Institution and relocated to Namibia. Her rigorous research, creative conservation programs, and holistic philosophy gained her the respect of the nation and other cheetah range countries. In 2020, CCF celebrates its 30th anniversary. Today, CCF is a world-class research institution on a 143,000-acre integrated wildlife-livestock reserve. Currently, Dr. Marker is working in Somaliland to stop the illegal wildlife trade in cheetah cubs. Dr. Marker earned her DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford, she is an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and has published more than 135 peer-reviewed scientific papers and books on cheetah. Dr. Marker’s many awards include, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award (2015), Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2010), and TIME Magazine's Hero for the Planet. She has been profiled by Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, CNN, and BBC News and has appeared in numerous television series and documentaries.


Living Desert University

Just because you’re ‘all grown up’ doesn’t mean you’re too old for some wild education at the zoo! Through LDU we are pleased to offer adults the chance to learn more about our desert biome. We have Garden & Home tours and nature themed walks to some of the Coachella Valley’s most interesting locations—including several outings to the world-renowned Smoke Tree Ranch. 

Open to the public; however, space is limited. Fees apply.

2019 - 2020 LDU Catalog

LDU Member RegistrationLDU Non-member Registration

For more information, contact us at (760)346-5694 ext. 2505 or email

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