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New Study Reveals the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens Generates an Impressive $530 Million in Economic Impact for the Coachella Valley in California

The economic study released by Tourism Economics shows a significant impact from the Coachella Valley’s signature attraction over the last five years.

PALM DESERT/INDIAN WELLS, CA • October 24, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Casandra Staubo
Account Coordinator
(832) 229-6722
casandra.staubo@jessuppr.com

A new economic impact study reveals The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens generates over $148M in annual economic impact for the Coachella Valley region, totaling over $534M since 2018. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization, situated dually in Palm Desert and Indian Wells, welcomed over 616,000 guests during the 2022-2023 season through general daytime attendance, signature special events, and educational opportunities and programs.

The economic impact study, completed by Tourism Economics in July 2023, reveals the significant impacts visitor and operational spending have on the greater Coachella Valley region. For instance the 2022-2023 season, the Zoo generated a total economic impact of $148.1M, supporting 1,484 part-time and full-time jobs and generating $17.9M in state and local taxes.

“The economic impact generated by our organization is significant – creating jobs, boasting local tax revenues, and positively contributing to the overall economy.” – Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert

“The Living Desert is a world-class organization welcoming over 2.5M visitors over the last five years, while providing the highest standard of animal care and engaging our communities with impactful conservation and education programs,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert. “The economic impact generated by our organization is significant – creating jobs, boasting local tax revenues, and positively contributing to the overall economy.”

Contributing to the Zoo’s economic success and impact over the last five years include significant investments including new beautiful and immersive habitats, exciting and impactful guest experiences, and unwavering commitment to saving wildlife including:

Grundhofer Plaza, Welcome Center, Appel Gift Shop – Opened in November 2018, the new plaza and gift shop features new amenities, technologies, and conveniences for guests.
Australian Adventures – Making its debut in June 2020, Australian Adventures’ immersive walkabout experience with wallabies and other animals transports guests to the land down under.
Rhino Savanna – In November 2021 the state-of-the-art four-acre habitat opened and is home to 11 African species including black rhinos, waterbuck, springbok, pelicans, and vultures.
Sausman Office Complex – Completed in August 2023, this 10,000 sq ft office complex was built to support the growing team of animal care, conservation, and operational staff.

“The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens should be proud of the tremendous impact it has had on the Greater Palm Springs economy and community,” said Scott White, President & CEO, Visit Greater Palm Springs. “With its mission of desert education and animal conservation the Zoo is a gem of the Coachella Valley and beloved by residents and visitors alike and it has welcomed generations of guests. Signature attractions like The Living Desert ensure that our tourism economy remains strong and vibrant and helps sustain Greater Palm Springs as one of the country’s top destinations.”

Future and planned capital investments that deepen the Zoo’s commitments to conservation, animal care, and guest experience include:

Parking Lot Expansion – Opening Summer 2024, an expanded parking lot will offer an additional 230 parking spaces including 64 with EV charging stations, providing a better guest experience.

Marketplace CafI and Splash Park – With an estimated opening in the Fall of 2024, the new marketplace and cafI will offer a variety of food and beverage options and the Splash Park will offer guests an immersive play and learning experience.

Lion Ridge and Lurie Event and Conference Center – Marking the completion of the Pride of the Desert capital campaign estimated in the Fall of 2026, the expansion will build three lion habitats and a 500-seat special event center with 180 views into the lion habitats.

The economic impact study reviewed the impact of current and future capital investments planned by The Living Desert. It showed that following the completion of Lion Ridge and Lurie Event and Conference Center, The Living Desert is expected to generate a total annual economic impact of $215.1M, which includes $80M in total labor income, supporting 2,150 part-time and full-time jobs and generating $25.3M in state and local tax revenues. In addition to the one-time capital expenditure impacts, the Zoo will generate a total economic impact of $62.8M during the construction of Lion Ridge and Lurie Event and Conference Center.

“For over 53 years, The Living Desert has operated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that receives no ongoing tax support,” We are asking both PD and IW for 5-10 million each over the next 5 years. Can we still claim not to be getting ongoing tax support? added Monroe. “All funds generated by the Zoo are from the guests who visit and through the generosity of our members and donors throughout the year. This support has helped us build this wonderful education and conservation campus. As The Living Desert looks towards the future, we will continue to build on our rich history and deep commitment to conservation with the final phases of the Pride of the Desert Capital Campaign, inspiring everyone to help protect the desert wildlife and wild places we all value.”

About the Study:
The Living Desert’s Economic Impact Study was completed in August 2023 by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, one of the world’s foremost independent global advisory firms with headquarters in Philadelphia, PA and Oxford, England. The time period evaluated was The Living Desert’s fiscal year July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023 and also included evaluations from 2018-2023.

About The Living Desert:
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 destination in the Palm Springs area for 50 years. Recognized nationally as one of the best zoos in America, The Living Desert is beloved by visitors and is consistently ranked as USA Today’s 10Best, ‘Best Desert Themed Zoo’ by Conde Nast Traveler, and US News and World Report’s Best Zoos in the US.

The Living Desert is located at 47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260. For more information: (760) 346-5694 or visit livingdesert.org.

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