Pride of the Desert Rhino header Pride of the Desert Rhino header


At The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, our guests discover the wonder of wildlife that sparks a passion to care for the natural world. Guests and supporters know our work furthers the impact on global wildlife initiatives and accelerates our ability to make a difference in the world.

As The Living Desert celebrates its 50th anniversary, we are looking toward the future! Crossroads of Conservation is a three-phase capital improvement project that includes new animal habitat space, a state-of-the-art event center, and most importantly, new ways for guests to observe, interact with and learn about desert species.

The $90 million capital campaign, Pride of the Desert, began in 2016 and aims to raise the necessary funds to build the Crossroads of Conservation project. As we complete each phase, we strengthen our commitment to conservation, education, and our community.

The Living Desert invites you to join us as we work to build the Zoo of the future and expand our conservation efforts.

Discover Naming Opportunities

Phase 1

Grundhofer Welcome Plaza and Appel Gift Shop - Now Open!

It’s time to stretch our horizons. The Coachella Valley is growing and so is our reach. Our guests look for exceptional animal care and natural habitats, increased species conservation efforts, and more conservation education. To build our Zoo of the future, we are making investments in three key areas: capacity, engagement, and conservation. Expanding our capacity includes modernizing and upgrading the guest experience to make a visit to The Living Desert the best day ever!

The first phase of this exciting adventure– Crossroads of Conservation – began with building a brand-new welcome entrance to our park, which opened to the public November 2018. The Patti and Jack Grundhofer Welcome Plaza greeted more than 500,000 guests this past season. Our admissions center now provides new conveniences and amenities, such as expedited ticketing, electronic ticketing kiosks, and premium guest services. Visitors are met by animal encounters, informed and engaged volunteer conservation ambassadors, a shaded and tranquil garden area, and integrated technologies to guide and inspire people of all ages. The new Suzan and Bill Appel Gift Shop offers an expanded selection of gift, specialty, and souvenir items.

Project Cost: $10 million

Opened: November 2018

Phase 1 - Plaza and Appel Gift Shop

Phase 2

Rhino Savanna - Now Open!

Rhino Savanna is The Living Desert's new four-acre habitat that offer guests incredible opportunities to see amazing black rhinos, unique antelope like springbok and waterbuck, a variety of birds, and fascinating subterranean animals including the naked mole rat.  The expansive multi-species and state-of-the art habitat highlights twelve species and transports guests right to their own African safari, creating connections and fostering appreciation for Africa’s wildlife.  Thoughtful design, inspiring encounters, a deep commitment to conservation, and excellence in animal care are the cornerstones of this new expansion. We are excited to welcome everyone to this extraordinary experience.

Rhino Status: Critically Endangered

Opened: November 12, 2021

Discover Naming Opportunities

Rhino Savanna Phase 2 Capital Campaign image

Phase 3

Lion Ridge and the Lurie special events center

The final phase will bring guests even closer to nature. Our spectacular Lion Ridge will feature a spacious habitat, providing a dramatic introduction to this species’ prowess and movement. With only 20,000 lions left in their natural ranges, this critically endangered species' survival depends on an understanding of and support for its worldwide conservation.

This one-of-a-kind lion habitat will be adjacent to a truly unique special events center, supported in part by a generous gift from Connie and Bob Lurie, for Zoo, private and corporate events. The focal point of the events center will be a 180-degree wall of glass looking directly into the lions’ den. The remarkable space will accommodate up to 500 guests for dining and provide an outstanding view of our pride of lions – truly The Pride of the Desert!

Lion Status: Critically Endangered

Financial Commitment Required: $60 million

Discover Naming Opportunities

Phase 3 - Lion Savanna and Special Event Center

Call (760) 340-5865 or email to schedule your private tour to see what we have accomplished and how you can be a part of the future of The Living Desert.


To learn more about The Living Desert's new plans for people, plants, and animals, and to get a sneak peek at the Zoo of the future, call Jan Hawkins, Director of Development at 760-346-1483 or email

Search the Living Desert WebsiteMagnifying glass icon