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The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a nonprofit, accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a nonprofit, accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums

About Us

Our Mission

Desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.

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.

Our History

The Living Desert was established in 1970 by several trustees of the Palm Springs Desert Museum who foresaw the impact that resort development would have on their local desert ecosystem. This foresight led to an interpretive nature trail and preserve in Palm Desert. Among the trustees was Philip L. Boyd who also founded the Riverside campus of the University of California and the Deep Canyon Research Station in Palm Desert. Among his first tasks was to hire a resident naturalist. This person turned out to be a young woman with energy, intelligence and ambition, as well as experience as a zoo keeper and park ranger, plus graduate work in wildlife biology.

Karen Sausman was President and CEO of The Living Desert for forty years. The vision that built The Living Desert and the love of the desert shared by Phillip Boyd, Karen Sausman, our members, volunteers, staff, trustees, and friends, will be carried forward by our current President/CEO, Allen Monroe.

For nearly five decades, The Living Desert has been engaged in the important work of preserving, conserving and interpreting the desert and all its varied plant and animal life. Even as we take immense pride in our accomplishments over the last 45+ years, we remain as dedicated as ever to the goals that initially inspired us when we first began operations in March of 1970.

Executive Leadership

Allen Monroe President/CEO
RoxAnna Breitigan Director of Animal Care
Mike Chedester Director of Education
Dr. James Danoff-Burg Director of Conservation
Jan Hawkins Director of Development
Dwight Middendorf Director of Finance
Dawn Petrick Director of Park Services
Brian Sawicki Director of Park Design, Maintenance and Gardens
Terrie Terrell Director of Human Resources

Board of Trustees

Bill Appel * Chairman
Larry Spicer * Treasurer
Mary O. Cone * Secretary
Allen Monroe * President/CEO & Assistant Secretary
Peggy Bernthal Susan E. Cooper * Marylynn Gladstein Harry M. Goldstein * Patti Grundhofer *
Candace Holzgrafe H. Earl Hoover II Suz Hunt Sis Jackson * Michael Kiner *
Janet Lanterman * Craig McCollam Jaishri Mehta Peter Scheer Dick Shalhoub *
Bill Simpkins * BJ Skilling * Phillip K. Smith, Jr. Roger Snoble * Mary Lou Solomon *
Sam Spinello * Nancy Stegehuis Van Tanner Brian Tobey Sandra Cooper Woodson *

* Board of Directors

Karen Sausman PRESIDENT EMERITA
Curt Ealy Sherman A. Smith TRUSTEE EMERITUS/EMERITA
Brian S. Harnik LEGAL COUNSEL

ADVISORY COUNCIL

Mayor Kimberly Muzik City of Indian Wells
Mayor Sabby Jonathan City of Palm Desert
Jim Barrett and Anthony Bianco Coachella Valley Water District
Wayne Connor Wayne Connor Associates
Scott White and Davis Meyer Greater Palm Springs CVB
Sabby Jonathan
Bill Powers
Judy Vossler
Carol Wright

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