FoxPaws | Fall 2023

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FALL 2023

board of trustees

Chairman Bill Appel*


Craig McCollam*

Secretary Sandra Cooper Woodson*

President/CEO & Assistant Secretary

Allen Monroe*

Jon-Marc Blalock*

Deborah Chapman*

Marylynn Gladstein

Alexandra Glickman

Jim Gould

Candace Holzgrafe*

H. Earl Hoover II

Suz Hunt

Michael Kiner

Jaishri Mehta

Jneil Nelson

Peter Scheer

Michael Schreter

Dick Shalhoub

Sally Simonds

Bill Simpkins

BJ Skilling

Phillip K. Smith, Jr.*

Roger Snoble

Mary Lou Solomon

Larry Spicer

Sam Spinello

Nancy L. Stegehuis*

Judy Vossler

*Board of Directors


Karen Sausman


Curt Ealy


Brian S. Harnik Roemer & Harnik, LLP


Mayor Donna Griffith

City of Palm Desert

Mayor Kathleen Kelly and Council Member Gina Nestande

City of Rancho Mirage Council Member Ted Weill

Coachella Valley Water District

Jim Barrett and Anthony Bianco

Visit Greater Palm Springs Scott White and Davis Meyer

Carol Wright



Erin Scott and Lindsay Jarvis Designer

Jim Augusto


RoxAnna Breitigan

Dr. James Danoff-Burg

Heather Down


Lizze Ferrari

Tyler Haycox

Lindsay Jarvis

Jared Moeller

Allen Monroe

Angela Woods

Dr. Anna Young

FALL 2023
COUNCIL City of Indian Wells
contents FEATURES 3 From the President’s Desk 4 Animal Wellbeing on the Savanna 8 Community Conservation in Zimbabwe 10 Rose & Sage 14 Journey to Tanzania 16 Supporter Spotlight WHAT’S NEW 12 Animals in Focus 17 The Living Desert Scholarship 18 WildFile 21 Events Calendar 22 Wonderfully Wild Kids foxpaws ON THE COVER Rose, the mountain lion. Learn more about her story on page 10!
Tara Howard


ONE OF THE JOYS of leading a conservation organization like The Living Desert is that I get to participate, at least vicariously, in so many worthwhile activities. While the public facing events in the Park get most of the attention, there is a lot going on behind the scenes and today I wanted to share three of my favorites.

Our ZooTeen program is a volunteer opportunity for students ages 14-18. In this program, high school students can discover career opportunities while carrying out activities that help tell our conservation stories with guests. The Living Desert also offers scholarship opportunities for ZooTeens to help further their

education. Some of the students who have been through this program are now conservation biologists, research scientists or have even come back to share their skills as a staff member.

When I can, I like to get out from behind the desk and spend time watching the animals under our care. In the past year, the addition of the mountain lions Rose and Sage has given me an incentive to hoof it down to Eagle Canyon on a regular basis. Their transition from sick abandoned cubs to healthy ambassadors for their species has been wonderful to watch and a testament to the veterinary and specialized animal care they received. Now they help

us tell the story of what we need to do to ensure there is space for this species in the remaining wild places.

In recent years, there has been a fundamental change in the focus of animal conservation efforts and The Living Desert has been leading that transition. As it becomes clear that there are not enough national parks for all the species that need protecting, a new initiative called Building Community Conservation Success (BCSS) has taken root. Our Conservation Department, led by Dr. James Danoff-Burg, holds social science workshops for biologists here in the desert southwest and as far away as Zimbabwe and Tanzania to address the root causes of species decline and teach a new generation of conservationists that the current extinction crisis is not an animal problem. The animals know what to do. It is a people problem, and the sooner everyone recognizes this and develops strategies so that the needs of people and animals are considered at the same time, the better off we all — and our planet — will be as we work toward this solution.

Your support of The Living Desert helps make all this possible. Together, one voice becomes many as we strive for a sustainable future. Thank you.

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Allen Monroe, President/CEO, on the road in Tanzania with nearby resting lions. To learn more about this recent Travel Club trip, turn to page 14.

After opening nearly two years ago, the nine species within this innovative habitat have shown that they are comfortable and thriving in their new home.

on the Savanna Animal Wellbeing

Bacardi, the springbok, and her male calf, shown just moments after birth on June 6. A second springbok calf was born to mom, Paloma, on June 14. These exciting births were the first to happen on Rhino Savanna!


have now lived in their sprawling, four-acre home for almost two years. The animals have shown us that the innovative design details put into this space have made them feel comfortable, and all the dynamic experiences provided have created an engaging home. This multispecies habitat — with black rhino being the signature species — was a unique endeavor, showing us how the many species living together in this space can all get along and thrive. The Living Desert team shaped a fully immersive experience in Rhino Savanna by creating a community where a variety of animal and plant species would be able to show a snippet of what life might look like on an African savanna. We are proud to say that our habitat multi-species management is working as planned with very few adjustments needing to be made since opening.


The enriching experiences that were designed to provide the animals with different choices and

opportunities throughout their day have proven to be effective and successful. No two days are alike for the animals on Rhino Savanna, which keeps the day interesting for the animals, keepers, and guests. For example, feeding devices, like the hay feeders that are programmed with different times to drop hay, are used all around the habitat. This encourages the rhinos and antelope to traverse the habitats in search of food, mimicking that natural behavior. These types of experiences are an important part of creating an optimal level of wellbeing for the animals who live at the Zoo. By providing options and choices, the animals can utilize their cognitive skills in new ways every day.


It has also been exciting to see some of the animals comfortable enough to breed in their new home. The arrival of two male springbok calves was significant as the first springbok born at the Zoo and the first births on Rhino Savanna. The Living Desert team awaited the births, watching the dams’ (mothers')

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bellies grow and then were thrilled to witness the births happen on habitat. This incredible life moment is rarely witnessed and gave the team a personal story to share with guests. The animal care team prepared the habitat for the new arrivals by lowering the ponds to just a few feet deep while the calves learned their way around their home. This prevents young calves from a potentially fatal accident but also can mimic the dry season in which the precious water sources get more difficult to find, encouraging the animals to look elsewhere as they would in the wild.

The Life Underground habitats have also proven to be comfortable for the animals with the first births in this space, the arrival of two dwarf mongoose pups. From the first day of birth the young mongoose have been visible, and within weeks of life have already ventured outside — allowing The Living Desert team and guests to observe their growth. This was a welcome surprise behavior as the team assumed the mongoose adults

would move the babies underground and out of sight. However, it was apparent that the mongoose felt comfortable in the homes created for them and kept their young where the animal care team could keep a close eye on them. The two little ones are now thriving and learning the ropes from the adults in the group.


When Jared Moeller, Animal Care Curator of Rhino Savanna, was asked about animal wellbeing on the habitat almost two years after its opening, his beaming smile says it all. “I am so very proud of the home we have created for all the animals in this area. To have the opportunity to try something new and be successful makes me really proud. When I stand and watch the waterbuck saunter by one of the rhinos or watch the springbok pronk by the pelicans, it really does seem like we have created a slice of Africa here.” It has been exciting to watch the animals settle in and continue to explore their home every day.

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ABOVE: Playful dwarf mongoose pups have been visible in their Life Underground habitat since birth. LEFT: Nia, the female black rhino, takes a dip in the watering hole on a summer day. RIGHT: Pink-backed pelican and great white pelican both reside in Rhino Savanna. Rhino photo by Lucas Barmeyer, Animal Care Supervisor

This year brings new festive features, seasonal favorites, and much more!

This in-person event is a gathering of experts from around the world who are dedicated to partnering with local communities to save the plants and animals who call the desert home.

Save the Date! Public registration opens October 5.

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Free for members or with paid park admission.
Saturday and Sunday, October 28-29 9:00am-3:00pm lights Wild November 21 –Member Preview Night Select Nights November 22 – December 30 December 14 –Exclusive 21+ Evening 6:00pm-9:00pm Tickets on sale October 15! friday – sunday, february 2-4, 2024

Community Conservation in Zimbabwe





Zimbabwe, The Living Desert’s conservation team recently lead three Building Community Conservation Success (BCCS) social science workshops for different groups of African conservation biologists and their colleagues. Traveling from Sizinda to Hwange National Park and finally Bulawayo, the team worked closely with each group to address human-wildlife conflict issues and develop a plan that is specific to each community’s needs.

First created in 2018, The Living Desert’s Building Community Conservation Success social science training workshops are transforming how conservation is being done around the world. These week-long workshops introduce conservation biologists to what they must know to successfully learn from their communities, understand the efficacy of their programs, and determine the best ways to structure their conservation activities to ensure communities, species, ecosystems, and economies can all succeed together. Thus far, The Living Desert has completed 11 multi-day workshops in eight countries for a total of 241 people. The Living Desert has also offered a dozen shorter one-day courses for an additional 250 people from a total of 29 countries.

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social science training workshops, The Living Desert works with field conservationists across the globe to address species survival and ecosystem success within each community. Top photo courtesy Hannah Trantner

OPPOSITE, TOP: In Hwange National Park

What is social science training and why is it needed? By examining the relationships of people within a community to their surrounding wildlife and ecosystem, it is possible to plan towards a holistic solution for humans and wildlife to co-exist. Most people that go into conservation do so because they love nature, animals, and plants –not because they love working with people. However, when they begin working where species live, they quickly learn that addressing the root causes of species decline requires working with people. Because conservationists are usually biologists, they are not fully equipped with the skills to learn from and work with the people living near the wildlife and ecosystems that are threatened. They need the skills and support to do social science research. This is where The Living Desert has become a world leader.

Species are not declining because they forgot how to breed, eat, or otherwise secure what they need to survive. Species are declining because of human activity and our choices. As such, because people are the problem, people need to also be the solution. This has led many to realize that conservation is not a biological science, rather, conservation is a social science.

By helping local conservation organizations around the world, The Living Desert is helping them address the root causes of species declines, while improving the lives and livelihoods of people living in and around invaluable natural areas.

BCCS Zimbabwe Workshops

SIZINDA, ZIMBABWE The Living Desert partnered with Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT) for a 5-day BCCS workshop with 28 participants, including students and conservationists from the University of Namibia, Zimbabwe Republic Police, and Matetsi Game Lodge. Participants learned foundational social science skills, then created several research projects and surveys focused on human-wildlife conflict affecting the African painted dog within the Zambezi National Park.


In collaboration with Imvelo Safari Lodges and Community Rhino Conservation Initiative, The Living Desert’s second BCCS workshop included 11 students and two faculty from Lupane State University. Participants created and then implemented two interview guides geared toward local communities’ needs and, separately, their experiences with human-wildlife conflict, including white rhino reintroduction within a nearby sanctuary.

BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE Partnering once again with Imvelo Safari Lodges, The Living Desert’s third BCCS workshop was a 3-day version of the previous course with students from the National University of Science and Technology. Participants learned the importance of community engagement in conservation success and developed a survey that they could implement in the future.

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ZIMBABWE Sizinda Bulawayo Hwange National Park Dr. James DanoffBurg, Vice President of Conservation, and Katie Shaw, Conservation Social Scientist, with BCCS participants. OPPOSITE, BOTTOM: Students from the National University of Science and Technology with Katie Shaw during the BCCS workshop in Bulawayo. BELOW: Dr. Danoff-Burg works with students in Sizinda during the Painted Dog Research Trust BCCS Workshop. Photo courtesy Chris Llewelyn

Rose & Sage

Through a collaborative effort, two orphaned mountain lions are rehabilitated before finding their forever home at The Living Desert.


Weight when first found 8.8 pounds 24.5 pounds

Weight upon arrival 53 pounds 75 pounds

Current weight 88 pounds 93 pounds

THE LIVING DESERT is thrilled to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the arrival of mountain lions, Rose and Sage. Now thriving together in their habitat in Eagle Canyon, Rose and Sage have fought against the odds despite each having a unique story with an arduous beginning. Due to the increased residential growth into previously undisturbed parts of California in recent years, mountain lions are suffering from fragmentation and degradation of their forest land habitat. Mountain lions’ expansive roaming area of approximately 100 square miles for males and 20-60 square miles for females means that the building of a single road to reach those new homes can drastically disrupt the animals’ range, consequently leading to more vehicle collisions and orphaned young.

In April 2022, hikers spotted an emaciated female mountain lion cub in San Mateo, California. After five days of extensive searching and monitoring through a joint effort with California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the four- to fivemonth-old female cub was located and retrieved. Transported to the Oakland Zoo’s veterinary hospital just in time, ‘Rose’ was extremely

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Sage (left) and Rose (right) acclimating to their new home at The Living Desert. The pair arrived in September 2022.

LEFT: “Sage’s confidence has reached new heights — quite literally!” shares Heather Down, Animal Care Curator. “His favorite look out point sits about 10 feet high. Rose hasn’t quite figured out how to make the climb.”

TOP: Sage was discovered in a classroom, underneath a teacher’s desk. The underweight young mountain lion was rehabilitated at the Oakland Zoo along with Rose.

BOTTOM: Rose, who was less than one-third the weight of a healthy female mountain lion her age when found, was rehabilitated for several months at the Oakland Zoo.

malnourished, emaciated, and dehydrated. Thanks to Oakland Zoo’s round-the-clock care and expertise, little Rose was on the road to a full recovery.

Just two months later, a six- toeight-month-old male mountain lion cub was discovered in a classroom at Pescadero High School in Northern California, hiding under the teacher’s desk. With no sightings of a mother around, California Fish and Wildlife safely relocated the orphan to Oakland Zoo where the malnourished cub, ‘Sage,’ received medical care from the veterinary team.

Rose and Sage were introduced to each other as a (non-breeding) pair and got along from the start. Unfortunately, the two juvenile mountain lions were not able to be released back into the wild as they were too young to be able to survive on their own, having missed out on the critical first two years of life usually spent learning from their mothers.

After several months of rehabilitation, the Oakland Zoo and The Living Desert worked together to prepare Rose and Sage for a trip to their new, forever home at The Living Desert. After some acclimating in their behindthe-scenes habitat, the pair were introduced into the mountain lion habitat in Eagle Canyon and have been settling in ever since.

“It has been rewarding to not only watch but be a part of Rose and Sage’s development from cub to juvenile-aged cougars,” says Heather Down, Animal Care Curator. “They both continue their accomplishments in participating in their own health care with voluntary weights and injections for vaccines thanks to the dedicated care of our animal care keepers and veterinary staff.”

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at left courtesy Oakland Zoo
“Rose carries on with her playful personality finding something new to interact with weekly and trucking it out to the guest window to show off,” shares Heather Down, Animal Care Curator.



Vulpes macrotis

With its coloring and small size of 3 to 4 pounds, the kit fox can sometimes be mistaken for a coyote pup. This agile desert predator is a nocturnal hunter that prefers kangaroo rats, but also eats small rodents, birds, insects, and reptiles. Kit foxes can be found in the southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico, within a habitat of desert scrub, chaparral, and grasslands.

DID YOU KNOW foxpaws was named in honor of Twix, the kit fox, The Living Desert’s first animal. Turn to page 18 to see a photo!

The Facts on Foxes

The Living Desert is home to four different fox species, each unique in appearance, range, habitat, and adaptations.

The island fox is found on six of the eight Channel Islands, located off the coast of Southern California, with each of the six islands having a unique subspecies. The Living Desert's island fox hails from San Clemente Island, the southernmost Channel Island. Once a critically endangered species with declining populations in the 1990s, the island fox’s IUCN Red List status has improved to “near threatened.” At 2.5 to 6 pounds, this is one of the smaller fox species. Their favored diet consists of rodents, insects, and fruit.

Weighing in at just 2 to 4 pounds, the fennec fox is the world’s smallest fox. Paired with that tiny stature are the largest ears relative to body size of any fox! Their big ears help with radiating excessive heat as well as honed hearing to locate prey. Residents of northern Africa, the fennec fox is well-adapted to its desert habitat, living mainly in sandy areas. Fennecs are speedy and agile, hunting mostly at night for their prey which includes small rodents, reptiles, and insects — though they are omnivores and also eat plants.

Found in eastern and southern Africa, the bat-eared fox’s habitat consists of short-grass plains and open desert. The 7-to-12-pound bateared fox is unique in its preference for insects over mammalian prey and, interestingly, is often found near hooved animals because their dung attracts insects. Having more teeth than most mammals (46-50) and large ears (about 5 inches long) allows for better chewing of insects and specialized hearing to seek them out.

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FENNEC FOX Vulpes zerda SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND FOX Urocyon littoralis clementae BAT-EARED FOX Otocyon megalotis



Your opportunity to travel the world awaits. New trips departing soon.

IN JUNE, 16 travelers packed their bags for an educational wildlife adventure in Tanzania, organized by The Living Desert. Starting the safari in Tarangire National Park, travelers were welcomed to a landscape dotted with giant baobab trees and the Tarangire River. During the dry season, an incredible array of migrating wildlife such as zebra, elephant, wildebeest, and gazelle return to the permanent waters of the river. Leading the group from The Living Desert team was Allen Monroe, President/CEO, and Lexi Ward, Senior Manager of Development.

To get a full understanding of each location, the group was guided by Fahad Hariri, an expert in regional wildlife and culture, and three experienced drivers. Additionally, Allen Monroe shared his knowledge and insights throughout each excursion. "Beyond the incredible wildlife and surrounding landscapes, one of my favorite parts of this trip was talking with our amazing group of travelers," says Allen. "By sharing the stories of species, ecosystems, and conservation efforts, we are continuing our mission of preservation, education, and appreciation."

AWAITS! Explore the world as


discover the wonders of wildlife with The Living Desert. Upcoming trips for 2024 and 2025 include Kenya and Tanzania. Visit Travel for details and join us for Travel Night on November 16, 2023 at the Zoo.

At the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the group climbed aboard land cruisers to descend the 1,800-foot-deep Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest unbroken caldera and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is rich in biodiversity, including threatened species such as the critically endangered black rhino, a species represented at The Living Desert's Rhino Savanna.

The 11-day adventure was packed with day trips throughout four major regions, including the Serengeti National Park, a protected area where the group was also up-close with lions, leopards, cheetah, and an amazing array of birds. The group also visited Tloma Primary School in Thloma Village, Karatu, where travelers brought along books and school supplies to the children as part of Bring-A-Book Foundation. At the end of the trip, travelers had the option of an additional 3-day extension to the island of Zanzibar.

When asked about standout moments from the trip, traveler Sheryl Benoit, who had been on three previous excursions with The Living Desert, says it was all about getting a glimpse of the animals in their natural habitat. “I could sit there for hours just watching one animal. It’s like going to The Living Desert and [I’m thankful] we have that here because that’s where your connection is made initially, and you think, ‘Wow, what is that really like?’” shares Sheryl, a member of The Living Desert since 1988. “[You] go on that first trip and you see the cheetah out in the wild, it takes your breath away!”

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BELOW: Lexi Ward (left), Senior Manager of Development at The Living Desert, and Sheryl Benoit (right) in Tarangire National Park. BOTTOM: The group had the chance to observe many animals in their natural habitat at Serengeti National Park, including giraffe. DESTINATION you

Supporter Spotlight

Malcolm and Nancy Slack during a special wallaby encounter as they celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

You can support your Zoo too! Use the enclosed envelope to send your year-end gift.

springbok, to the tiny naked mole rat. “They have their own cute little charm about them; they’re tough little guys,” says Malcolm.


and Nancy Slack have visited zoos across the globe and all seven continents, they’ve developed a special fondness for The Living Desert and its focus on desert animals and plant species. The Rancho Cucamonga, California, residents have been members since 2013 and also support the Zoo through monthly donations and animal adoptions. But perhaps their favorite gift so far is Nancy’s surprise for Malcolm a few Christmases ago, a very ‘fitting’ building adoption at Bighorn Railroad. She chose a tailor shop and aptly named it ‘A Pair of Slacks.’ Nancy shares, “We have fun with our last name

of ‘Slack,’ and we tell people that we’re just a pair of slacks.”

After discovering WildLights and Glow in the Park a few years ago, the Slacks have come to enjoy these events as part of their own holiday season, noting that they’re “… just really exceptional to see!” The couple also happened upon a Halloween encounter when the animal care team left pumpkins for the African painted dogs. “That was a really neat, memorable thing [when] we were there at the right time, and it was just so much fun,” says Malcolm. The Slacks love watching all the animals at the Zoo, from the curious meerkats to the pronking

During their time supporting The Living Desert, Nancy and Malcolm have come to appreciate the close-knit community and relationships built throughout the years. “We just like helping out something that is meaningful but also that is a smaller entity, more personal,” shares Nancy. Malcolm notes that he also loves spotting Allen Monroe, President/CEO, in his animal jackets as he walks around and chats with guests during special events!

Through generous donations like these, The Living Desert is able to provide the highest level of care for our animals and share the unique stories of desert ecosystems with guests every day. You can also help to support The Living Desert with a gift of any amount online at or call 760-346-5694.

16 foxpaws | FALL 2023 Visit our website or call for more information: | 760-346-5694 Guardian Society membership and Champions of Conservation: Lexi Ward, 760-340-2157

The Living Desert Scholarship

Six ZooTeen volunteers are awarded scholarships to pursue higher education in the field of conservation.


the next generation of conservation professionals is an integral part of the Zoo’s mission. Every year, The Living Desert awards thousands of dollars to assist ZooTeen volunteers in their pursuit of a college major related to conservation. The Living Desert Scholarship is an endowed fund that has been allocating money to students of the Coachella Valley for over a decade. ZooTeens can apply for a college scholarship while in their senior year of high school. Past recipients have gone on to pursue a PhD or a master’s degree, such as Rogelio Barajas, a 2013 recipient who is now a life science researcher at Stanford University.

In partnership with OneFuture Coachella Valley, The Living Desert selects a handful of applicants every

year based on their academic performance in high school and their contribution to the community. In addition to volunteering at The Living Desert, current awardees have juggled a variety of other impressive commitments while in high school, from being a lifeguard to competing in cross country and track meets, to serving as captain of a swim team.

The Living Desert is excited to announce the six recipients of the 2023 The Living Desert Scholarship Fund for college: Emily Lindemann, Kinsi Peterson, Maxwell Floyd, Mikenna Pruette, Samantha Gonzalez, and Samantha Schuessler.

This year’s recipients are planning on studying biology, environmental science, and zoology at universities across California and Arizona. They aim to apply their studies towards careers in environmental law, fieldwork studying wild animals, and in educating others about conservation biology.

High school students of the Coachella Valley who are interested in applying their passion for conservation and education as a ZooTeen can sign up now to join other likeminded teens. The application closes October 14, learn more at

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Mikenna Pruette Emily Lindemann Samantha Schuessler Maxwell Floyd Samantha Gonzalez Kinsi Peterson


New Office Complex Named in Honor of Karen Sausman

The Living Desert is excited to announce the completion of a new staff office complex. This expansive, 10,000-square-foot space has been named in honor of Karen Sausman, The Living Desert’s former CEO of over 40 years. Karen’s pioneering vision helped to turn a nature center into what The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is today. Her legacy lives on in our mission of desert conservation through preservation, education, and appreciation. The Sausman complex opened on August 15 and staff are already settled in the new location — complete with a view of giraffe on the savanna!

School Field Trips

Registration is now open for booking field trips throughout the 2023-2024 school year! Self-guided field trips are available for grades Transitional Kindergarten (TK)-12, Tuesday-Friday from October 3, 2023-May 3, 2024. School field trips must be booked at least three weeks in advance of your preferred school field trip date.

School field trips will be blocked out on the following dates: November 21-24, 2023; December 26, 2023-January 5, 2024; April 2-5, 2024.

Visit to register and learn more.

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Karen Sausman, The Living Desert’s former CEO, with Twix, the kit fox, circa 1974.

Recent Zoo Births

Dwarf Mongoose

On June 29, a litter of dwarf mongoose were born on Rhino Savanna for the first time. The two pups can be seen playing in their Life Underground habitat and have even ventured outside into the open area. This birth is the result of a Species Survival Plan® (SSP) recommendation.

Grey Crowned Crane

A new flock of endangered East African grey crowned cranes arrived at The Living Desert in May. The two chicks are thriving behind-the-scenes with parents, Taji and Daphne.

Addra Gazelle


The first of two male springbok was born on June 6 to mom, Bacardi. This was the first springbok born at The Living Desert and also the first birth to happen on the Rhino Savanna habitat.

On June 14, a second male springbok was born on Rhino Savanna to mom, Paloma. The two young springbok can be seen throughout the habitat amongst black rhino, waterbuck, pelican, and helmeted guineafowl.

Mojave Maxine

A female addra gazelle was born to mom, Athena, on August 10. This critically endangered species, also known as dama or mhorr gazelle, are the largest gazelle species. This birth is the result of a Species Survival Plan® (SSP) recommendation, a collaborative program among fellow accredited institutions to ensure genetic diversity and sustainability in the human care populations. With fewer than 200 mature addra remaining in their native habitat, The Living Desert is proud to be a part of conservation efforts for this species.

Don’t forget, the Mojave Maxine emergence contest begins November 1! Maxine, the desert tortoise, is the ultimate springtime forecaster — can you guess when she will emerge from brumation this season?

To learn more, visit

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The Living Desert Welcomes New Executive Leadership

The Living Desert is thrilled to announce that RoxAnna Breitigan has recently been named chief operating officer after eight years of exceptional work as the director of animal care. In the newly created position, RoxAnna will oversee animal care and health; park operations including maintenance, gardens, and facilities; and guest services including admissions, membership, attractions, events, tours, and safety. “It has been a privilege to lead the animal care team the last eight years, elevating animal wellbeing and fostering a culture of greatness,” said RoxAnna. “In my new role, I look forward to expanding upon the progress we’ve made, continuing to advance The Living

Desert’s impact and mission of protecting desert wildlife and wild places.”

In March, the Zoo welcomed Jeff Petrovic as the new chief development officer to lead The Living Desert’s fundraising team. Jeff, an Arizona native, previously worked as the chief development officer of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. His extensive background and expertise in development throughout Seattle, Denver, Tucson, and Houston will help in making exciting new initiatives come to fruition throughout the Zoo. “I am excited and grateful to work for The Living Desert and lead the fundraising efforts for the new Pride of the Desert Lions

Habitat, Events Center, Bighorn Restaurant, and Splashpad,” said Jeff. “I am also proud to call the Coachella Valley my home.”

In June, Allison Krupp joined The Living Desert team as vice president of marketing and communications. With Allison's esteemed and diverse background in intuitive marketing, she leads the Zoo’s marketing team throughout comprehensive, omni-channel campaigns. “My passion is and always has been animals and the preservation and conservation of wildlife and nature,” she shares. Allison originally hails from Queens, New York, before living in the Chicago area where she most recently worked as senior vice president of corporate development and brand partnership for a plant-based food company. “I lived in Chicago for most of my life and I have been in marketing/PR for over 30 years, having worked with organizations such as NASA, Chicago Bears, Target, and a national grocery chain and an international plantbased food company.”

The Living Desert welcomes this talented team of new leadership as we grow and continue towards our mission of desert conservation through preservation, education, and appreciation.

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From left to right: Chief Operating Officer/ former Director of Animal Care, RoxAnna Breitigan; Chief Development Officer, Jeff Petrovic; Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Allison Krupp.


Season Hours Return

October 1

The Living Desert returns to regular seasonal hours of 8:00am-5:00pm daily, with last admission at 4:00pm. The carousel will also resume regularly scheduled operating hours.

Me & You at the Zoo

Starting October 3

Tuesdays from 9:00am-10:00am in the Hoover Education Building. This interactive, parent participation program, designed for toddlers, meets each week and is free with membership or paid park admission. No advance registration is required!

New Volunteer Application

Apply by October 10 for the fall session

Join The Living Desert’s wonderfully wild team of volunteers! A variety of positions and shifts are available. Visit LivingDesert. org/Volunteer to learn more.


Applications close on October 14

New ZooTeen orientation is November 2

Students ages 14-18 can practice sharing their passion for wildlife and wild places as part of our ZooTeen program! Learn more at


October 28-29 from 9:00am-3:00pm

Enjoy family-friendly activities, costumes, trick-or-treat candy stations, and more at The Living Desert’s annual Halloween celebration. This event is free for members or with paid park admission.

Zoo Families, Wildly Diverse

November 4 and December 9, 9:30am12:00pm

This family program invites you and your pride to learn about the animal families here at the Zoo and includes an up-close animal experience, story time, a craft, tram tour, and admission to the Zoo afterwards.


Member Preview Night – November 21 Select Nights, November 22-December 30 New! Adults Only (21+) Night – December 14

Celebrate the season at The Living Desert’s cherished holiday event. Returning for its 31st season, WildLights will feature dazzling new light displays, programming, and an exclusive 21+ evening. Advance registration is recommended, tickets on sale October 15 at


Fall ZooCamp: November 10 and 20-22, registration opens October 9.

Winter ZooCamp: December 27-29 and January 3-5, registration opens November 6.

Visit to learn more.

World Desert Day

January 13, 2024

International Desert Conservation Summit

February 2-4, 2024

2024 Zoobilee Gala

February 24, 2024

Glow in the Park

March 15 – Member Preview Night Select Nights, March 16-April 28

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Visit Events for details about new programs!learning


Footprint Field Guide

Animals at The Living Desert really make an impression! Can you fill in the missing letters to identify each footprint?

22 foxpaws | FALL 2023
O I X N F E ' E A B L K O A S
Answer Key: Bobcat, Grevy's zebra, Mexican wolf, Black rhino, Roadrunner, Ostrich

Become a JuniorAgent of Conservation!

Conservation is the protection of things found in nature, including water, soil, minerals, plants, and animals. An Agent of Conservation cares about nature and tries to preserve these natural resources so that they will still be around in the future. This way, we can all enjoy nature for as long as possible.

Conservation is something that we can do in our daily lives by making the best choices for the environment. Ready to start conserving? Here are some actions you can take to become a Junior Agent of Conservation.

Create less trash! You've probably heard of reducing, reusing, and recycling — but refusing is the first step! Choose to refuse single-use items, such as plastic take-away cups, containers, and straws whenever you can. Instead, opt for reusable alternatives. Lean into thrift store shopping instead of new, often fast, fashion. Ask for memorable activities and experiences for gifts instead of items.

Eat like an herbivore! Enjoy meatless meals like fruits and veggies with hummus, mac and cheese, vegetable soups, rice and beans, or spaghetti noodles with marinara sauce. Eating less meat is one of the most effective actions we can take to help the planet!

Act like a social butterfly! Talk to your parents and guardians about walking, biking, taking the bus, or carpooling to school or practice instead of taking a trip for one person. Road transportaion accounts for over one-tenth of total atmospheric pollution, but you can help to reduce it by traveling with others.

Be an animal lover! Treat animals with kindness and respect. If you spot a wild animal, admire it from a distance and never feed it or disturb its habitat. Make sure to leave no trace when visiting nature, always picking up and disposing of trash so that we can leave nature undisturbed.

Explore and learn! Visit parks, zoos, or botanical gardens to discover the wonders of wildlife and plants. Read books, watch documentaries, or join nature clubs — like our ZooCamp program — to expand your knowledge. When you share what you learn, you inspire others to care for the Earth too!

Congratulations, Junior Agents of Conservation! By understanding and practicing these conservation actions, you're making a difference in protecting our beautiful planet.

NON-PROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO.149 PALM DESERT, CA 47900 Portola Ave. Palm Desert, CA 92260
sharing your love with an Adopt! gift, you give back in many ways. The Adopt! program supports The Living Desert's state-of-the-art animal and veterinary care, as well as the Zoo's innovative conservation and education programs.
Living Desert
Call 760-674-4684 or visit to learn more. ADOPT! THIS HOLIDAY SEASON TO HELP WILDLIFE
Gazelle By
The Living Desert is dedicated to developing comprehensive conservation programs that restore habitats, empower local communities, and protect the wildlife and wild places we all love. Your Adopt! gift is a powerful way to show your support of The
Zoo and Gardens.
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