Celebrating 50 Years of Adventure
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild.

Press Room


PALM DESERT/INDIAN WELLS, CA • February 20, 2018

Contact: Erin Scott
Sr. Marketing and Public Relations Manager
760-346-5694 x.2610

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is pleased to announce three new team members: Director of Conservation Dr. James Danoff-Burg; Head Staff Veterinarian Andrea Goodnight, DVM; and Dr. Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba, Planned Giving and Grants Officer.

“We are thrilled to welcome these new team members to The Living Desert,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO. “Each of them bring unique talents and are top in their field. They will play an integral role in our mission of conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.”

The Living Desert’s new Director of Conservation, Dr. James Danoff-Burg, is an educator, conservation strategist, and biodiversity scientist focused on the human dimensions of conservation. He is responsible for initiating, directing, and integrating the zoo’s leading-edge conservation projects with a keen focus on North American and African desert species.

For the past two decades, his research, teaching, and conservation implementation actions have focused on solutions to threats facing global biodiversity through community-based conservation approaches. Danoff-Burg recently has been a consultant on sustainable community-based conservation to zoos and aquariums, and the governments of countries as diverse as the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, United Arab Emirates, India, and Japan. Integral to all of these efforts is his deep commitment to inspiring hope for the future across the 17 countries in which he has worked.

He is Founding Director of Helping Rhinos USA, a conservation organization focused on supporting community-based conservation and education solutions to the epidemic of poaching that is affecting the populations of Black and Southern White rhinos in Africa. The work of Helping Rhinos strives to enhance anti-poaching efforts while also fostering demand reduction in consumer countries through education and outreach, and will become an important part of The Living Desert’s African conservation work.

Danoff-Burg earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Kansas, after which he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vermont and at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Afterwards, he was a Professor and conservation researcher at Columbia University for a decade and a half and then directed the Conservation Education Division at the San Diego Zoo for several years.

Andrea Goodnight, DVM, joins The Living Desert as a Head Staff Veterinarian where she will oversee the veterinary medical care of the animals and overall management responsibilities of the animal health team. Her role ensures The Living Desert practices state of the art veterinary medicine and maintains the high standards that are set by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. She brings a great enthusiasm for the profession of zoological medicine and the conservation of desert species.

Previously she was Veterinarian at Oakland Zoo for over 10 years, leading preventative medicine and health protocols for more than 600 animals, and served on the California Condor Recovery Team. In addition, she was head veterinarian at CuriOdyssey in San Mateo, and contract veterinarian at Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. She began her career as an intern at The Birmingham Zoo and Indianapolis Zoo and held her residency at The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from 2004 to 2006.

Dr. Jonathan Lorenzo Yorba, joins The Living Desert as Planned Giving and Grants Officer. He has built a career in philanthropy, education, cultural institutions and museums, including the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC—which include a zoo, aquarium, and botanical gardens. Prior to joining The Living Desert, he was President and CEO of The Community Foundation, which serves Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

Yorba is Chair of the Ford Foundation Fellows Fund at the National Academies / National Research Council in Washington, DC. He is also affiliated with the Council on Foundations in Arlington, Virginia for whom he serves as an auditor/reviewer of foundations undergoing National Standards Accreditation. Yorba attended College of the Desert before transferring to San Francisco State University where he earned his BA and MA. Following that he earned his PhD at the University of California at Berkeley. Yorba also holds several professional certificates: Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE); Certified Specialist in Planned Giving (CSPG); Certificate in Philanthropy and Fund Development; Certificate in Foundation Finance and Administration; and Certificate in Human Resource Management.

The Living Desert is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information: (760) 346-5694 or visit

About The Living Desert:
The Living Desert is an AZA-accredited zoo and gardens that is dedicated to desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation. It is a family-friendly place to explore nature and create meaningful experiences for guests that are remembered for a lifetime.
For more information: (760) 346-5694 or visit The Living Desert is located at: 47900 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert, CA 92260.