Foxpaws | Spring 2022

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foxpaws SPRING






W onde rfull y Wild

foxpaws SPRING 2022

board of trustees Chairman: Treasurer: Secretary: President/CEO & Assistant Secretary: Jon-Marc Blalock * Deborah Chapman Melinda Drickey Marylynn Gladstein Jim Gould Patti Grundhofer Candace Holzgrafe * H. Earl Hoover II Suz Hunt Sis Jackson Michael Kiner Jaishri Mehta Jneil Nelson Peter Scheer Michael Schreter Dick Shalhoub Sally Simonds Bill Simpkins BJ Skilling Phillip K. Smith, Jr. * Roger Snoble

Bill Appel * Craig McCollam * Sandra Cooper Woodson *

Allen Monroe * Mary Lou Solomon Larry Spicer Sam Spinello Nancy L. Stegehuis * Van Tanner * * Board of Directors PRESIDENT EMERITA Karen Sausman TRUSTEE EMERITUS Curt Ealy

City of Indian Wells – Mayor Dana Reed City of Palm Desert – Mayor Jan Harnik and Councilman Sabby Jonathan City of Rancho Mirage – Mayor Ted Weill Coachella Valley Water District – Jim Barrett and Anthony Bianco Wayne Connor Associates – Wayne Connor Greater Palm Springs CVB – Scott White and Davis Meyer Carol Wright

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FEATURES 03 04 07

From the President’s Desk Worth the Weight Celebrating our Turning Point


Life on the Prairie: Desert Grasslands Come Alive


Animals in Focus: Horns

Allen Monroe, President/CEO

WHAT’S NEW 14 16 19

Rhino Savanna Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Left to right: Richard Ballaco, Jan Harnik, Allen Monroe, Bill Appel, Jan Hawkins, V. Manual Perez


WildFile Spring Events Calendar Wonderfully Wild Kids

After several years of architectural design,

fundraising, and construction, the new Rhino Savanna opened at the end of last year to great acclaim. It was satisfying to see the animals settle into their new home and use the features of the habitat that had been designed for their comfort and care.

LEGAL COUNSEL Brian S. Harnik Roemer & Harnik, LLP


Judy Vossler

table of contents

ON THE COVER Nia, Black Rhino Photo: Tara Howard

It was also gratifying to hear expressions of delight from our guests when they had their first sighting of the naked mole rats or saw one of the rhinos prance across the savanna. It is hard to imagine animals currently weighing almost a ton can be so graceful.

FOXPAWS EDITORIAL STAFF Project Manager Erin Scott Designer Tori Church

The Rhino Savanna gives us a foundation for sharing the conservation stories of these amazing animals and what we must do to help preserve and protect them. With fewer than 5,600 black rhinos

Contributors RoxAnna Breitigan Dr. James Danoff-Burg Heather Down Jan Hawkins Allen Monroe Erin Scott Angela Woods

left in the world, it is up to all of us to make a commitment that human greed and ignorance will not be the cause for their extinction. The last two years have been challenging for everyone as we adjusted to the changes caused by the pandemic. Here at The Living Desert, the opening of the Rhino Savanna provides us with hope and optimism. Hope that as we continue into our next 50 years, our future is bright and clear. Hope that The Living Desert continues to serve as an educational resource for our children and grandchildren, so they make enlightened decisions to protect our natural heritage. And, I hope the Rhino Savanna serves as a beacon for all endangered species like Nia and Jaali so that they also have a clear and bright future.

Allen Monroe, President/CEO



account. This gives the animal care team the ability to shift (move) animals around their habitats, have them voluntarily participate in their own healthcare, and get close enough to them so that we can assess their overall body conditions. All of these efforts were done over a period of time allowing the animals to move and settle into their home with as little stress as possible.

Nia roaming the Rhino Savanna

Jaali, black rhino

NIA AND JAALI SETTLE IN The introductions of the animals to each other were smooth and each species has found their favorite spots throughout the habitat. Nia can often be seen roaming the habitat, wallowing in the mud, then dipping her hooves into the ponds and scratching her back on the log furniture. Jaali enjoys his time on the savanna and has explored the various features located throughout. The rhinos continue to learn new things every day on their own and through animal care keeper interactions. For example, both Jaali and Nia will voluntarily walk onto the scale built within the barn to track their weights, which gives the care and veterinary teams valuable information about their health and growth. As juveniles, they are still growing and will eventually double in size as they mature.

worth the weight By RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care

The new residents of Rhino Savanna have

now settled into their new home. We all understand what it is like moving into a new home: unpacking the boxes, changing the locks, moving the furniture, turning on the utilities, and finally sitting on the couch to soak it all in. After all the construction, preparations, unpacking the kitchen utensils, moving the large logs, planting trees, growing grass, and finding the light switches, we also have taken some time to soak it all in. The animal care team has been working with each animal since their arrival beginning with building strong, trusting relationships through positive reinforcement techniques. The question foxpaws |


of how or can you even build a relationship with a vulture, springbok, or rhino is a common one. The answer is a resounding yes! This can begin with something as simple as sitting near an animal and tossing it a favorite food item or using a target pole to begin the training process. Over the months leading up to the great Rhino Savanna move in, the animal care keepers diligently and patiently interacted with each animal to build that relationship. Oftentimes we think of this relationship like building a trust account. Each positive interaction a keeper has with an animal adds to the trust account. The more we put in, the stronger and more fruitful the

Once they reach maturity in a few years, Nia and Jaali will be introduced for breeding which is based on the Black Rhino Species Survival Program’s recommendations. Their successful breeding efforts will allow us to contribute to the insurance population of the critically endangered black rhino in human care. Black rhino are solitary and territorial, only crossing other black rhino territories to breed or to find a valuable waterhole. Nia and Jaali will remain separate, but always be near each other and will cross territories between the two savannas periodically providing them a more dynamic life that mimics the wild. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD The rhinos’ neighbors, who live amongst them, have also settled in well. The waterbuck and springbok can often be seen grazing or nestled on one of the many hillsides observing the day’s activities. The great white and pink-backed pelicans have found favorite hillsides as well and can be seen swimming in the waterholes. They also have been seen enjoying the sprinklers, playing in them like kids on a summer day. The cape vultures can often be seen sitting at a high point, ever watchful of the movements around them. The marabou stork roams


Pink-backed pelican


The Grand Opening Celebrations for the Rhino Savanna

every nook and cranny of the habitat throughout the day keeping himself occupied. The cattle egrets and guinea fowl stay busy all day, looking for insects and keeping a vigilant eye out. You can usually hear the guinea fowl before you see them, a reason they are often called the watch chickens of the savanna. Each species has found their favorite spots but also utilize the habitat’s features in unique ways. As an animal care professional, it is thrilling to see all the animals thrive in their new home and use the space as we designed.

celebrating our turning point

around the barn, the smaller antelope steadily enter their barn in the evenings, the small birds perch each evening in their night house and the pelicans waddle around calmly taking dips in the pools often. The animal care team will continue to challenge ourselves to create new and active opportunities for the animals. The critically endangered black rhino and all their neighbors will continue to explore the spaces and help us share their message of the decline of their wild counterparts to each guest who visits them in their new home.

The Rhino Savanna’s tiniest inhabitants are also thriving in their new digs. The two colonies of naked mole rats continue to amaze every guest that passes through. And, new life has sprung within each colony, with litters of pups being born. These births are significant because it tells the animal care team that the animals’ needs are fulfilled, and they are comfortable enough to produce offspring.

BIGHORN Luncheon

THE HEART OF THE HOME The Chaiken Animal Care and Nutrition Center is the hub of the new area and guests will often see a variety of things happening in that space. The working kitchen is a wonderful addition for taking care of the nutritional needs of the animals. The blender, knives, and cutting boards have been unpacked and are used every day to provide meals for the 600 animals who call the zoo home. The refrigerators are stocked weekly with premium produce and high-quality protein, so whether you are an herbivore or carnivore, the meals are nutritious, well-balanced, and delicious.

David Lee & Edie McCarthy

Bill & Susan Appel

Naked Mole Rats

Candi & Jon Holzgrafe Preparing Daily Meals

The workstations in the animal care office portion of this building are used daily to assist the animal care keepers in tracking information and observations about the residents of Rhino Savanna. Early each morning, the keepers can be seen planning and coordinating their day to provide world class care of the animals. And throughout the day, you might see them entering data, researching, and completing their general record keeping.

Katelyn Kalter & Sarah Kalter

The animal introductions to the new areas have been smooth and everyone is adjusting well to their new home. The rhino easily move into and foxpaws |


Cynthia & Jim Williams



Life on the Prairie DESERT GRASSLANDS COME ALIVE By RoxAnna Breitigan, Director of Animal Care, and Heather Down, Animal Care Curator

Nestled deep between the palms away

from the paved pathway, and just past a small pond with the howl of the coyotes nearby, stands the now-revitalized Oasis Aviary. One of the first structures built at The Living Desert, this space was home to several bird species over the years. However, after nearly 50 years, the aviary was showing its age and was in need of modernization. During the summer of 2020, the animal care team carefully relocated the Oasis Aviary’s residents to other habitats throughout the zoo and began to reimagine the future of this space. Through a generous gift from Patricia and Raymond Paige, the new Wild Prairies is ready for its grand debut. Opened in early February, the new Wild Prairies is a multi-species walk-through aviary where you can share the same space with an all-female coterie (family group) of black-tailed prairie dogs! A new animal species to The Living Desert, these robustly plump rodents will cohabitate as they would out in the desert grasslands alongside burrowing owls, road runners, turkey vultures, and barn owls interacting in the large walk-through area. Adjacent to the Wild Prairies is a new, spacious habitat where our resident red-tailed hawks reside.

Black-tailed Prairie Dogs

range of vocalizations – each sound or call can identify individual predators. Grasslands are home to a variety of wildlife. Native grassland birds are most abundant where ecological areas such as rivers and the foothills blend. At Wild Prairies the desert grasslands converge with the desert oasis to create a serene landscape, a babbling stream and ideal habitat for several species to coexist. High-flying and ground-dwelling birds will utilize the meshed space in a variety of ways. Specific trees were added to provide protected homes and bountiful perching spots. Guests may be amazed as some birds flap their wings above or scurry below across the grasses planted purposely for them to feel secure. ECOSYSTEM INFLUENCERS This new habitat not only provides a new home for several species, but it will allow us to share their stories, along with the threats and solutions for these important species. Once numbering in the billions in the mid1880s, prairie dog populations have decreased dramatically with some sub-species being listed as Endangered by the Endangered Species Act. Although prairie dogs have been demonized as a pest by some groups, it is

LIFE ON THE PRAIRIE This multi-species habitat will provide guests with an up-close look into a slice of life found on the desert grasslands of the United States. Black-tailed prairie dogs are highly gregarious animals, thriving in large groups while maintaining the land and tunnel systems they call home. These social rodents will busy themselves modifying and renovating their underground tunnel systems, entry holes, dens, and burrows, collectively known as a prairie dog town. Interconnecting tunnels, situated at impressive depths, as well as multiple entrances, allow for escape routes from predators, a nesting chamber with dry bedding for rearing pups, and listening chambers near the entrance for added safety are hallmarks of a prairie dog town. Prairie dogs are notoriously boisterous, and guests may be surprised by their broad

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Red-tailed Hawk


now widely known that this rambunctious rodent is necessary for a healthy ecosystem. Known as a keystone species, prairie dogs make a unique and significant impact on the prairie and its inhabitants.

Wild Prairies

Prairie dogs and their burrows transform the landscape. They loosen soil, increasing the ability for plant sustainability, which in turn attracts an array of wildlife. Many species rely on the prairie dog and their tunnels, such as bison herds, porcupines, kit foxes, eagles, owls but probably none more than the once thought to be extinct, black-footed ferret. Prairie dogs are the ultimate ecosystem influencers, their dung acting as a natural fertilizer increasing the protein of the land and creating a higher digestibility of the rangeland grasses. The prairie dog is the main source of food for black-footed ferret and there are now symbiotic conservation efforts to save both species.

Barn Owl

WE DIG 'EM AND YOU WILL TOO! As with many of the species we are working hard to save, the animals and plants that call the grassland ecosystem home are under threats like habitat destruction, wide-scale use of pesticides and fertilizers, rampant wildfires, and the of lack of water caused by the continued threat of droughts. They are not only a valuable food source for many, but their digging abilities provide shelter for countless species. There is no doubt that with such a strong influence on its environment, the desert grasslands without prairie dogs and its neighbors would drastically change.

Turkey Vulture

The antics of the quirky prairie dogs will certainly bring smiles to the guests, and the birds are sure to delight and bring a sense of wonder to all who stroll through or in front of the reimagined habitat. This sliver of the desert grasslands will give guests another opportunity to see and feel another unique ecosystem with every visit. Burrowing Owl

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Black-tailed Prairie Dog



Have you seen these horns around the Zoo?

Animals in Focus: Horns A signature feature of many hoofed mammals, horns and antlers, sure make a statement.

Horns belong to members of the Bovidae family (antelope, goat, cattle) and pronghorn. Horns are a two-part structure which includes an inner bone that is an extension of the skull covered by an exterior sheath grown by specialized follicles that produce a thick layer of keratin. Horns grow throughout an animal’s entire life, never falling off. In some species both males and females have horns. In others, only males have horns. Horns are

used for social dominance, displays of strength, and defense against predators. While antlers, on the other hand, are found on members of the deer family (family Cervidae). Antlers grow as an extension of the animal’s skull comprised of one boney structure. Generally only found on males, antlers shed and regrow annually. Antlers are mainly used for mate selection during breeding season. At The Living Desert, horns dominate the scene from the tiny klipspringer to the thundering black rhino.

Greater Kudu. Known for their two and a half twists, greater kudu horns average 50 inches in length.

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Bighorn Sheep


North America

North America

The horns of an addax have a spiral shape with two to three twists that measure between 22 to 33 inches.

Pronghorn are the only horned mammal that annually shed them - the keratin sheath falls off leaving the bony core.

Bighorn sheep males can have horns that weigh up to 30 pounds.


Black Rhino

Arabian Oryx



Arabian Peninsula

Giraffe have ossicones, which are similar to horns. They are formed from ossified cartilage (cartilage that has hardened into bone) and are covered in skin. Giraffe are the only mammal born with their horns.

Black rhino boast two horns made of keratin. The foremost horn is the most prominent and can reach lengths of 55 inches. The rhino is the only animal that has the horn located on the nose rather than the top of their head.

Known as the unicorn of the desert, the Arabian oryx’s two horns appear to be one when viewing from the side. These horns can reach 30 inches in length.




The Living Desert’s Travel Club offers extraordinary trips around the world; each one custom-designed to highlight the breathtaking beauty of the destination. Each trip is led by Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert. Space is limited. Learn more about these trips at Our upcoming trips for 2022 and 2023 include: Polar Bears in the Arctic

Greenland and the Canadian High Artic September 7-26, 2022 A once in a lifetime opportunity to the realm of the polar bears, this epic voyage explores two of the Arctic’s most memorable places.

Tunnel of Lights



October 1-12, 2022 Discover adventure wrapped in luxury with visits to numerous National Parks for extraordinary wildlife experiences.

The Living Desert’s 29th Annual WildLights, presented by H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation was a record-breaking success. The Zoo welcomed over 65,000 guests from all over the country to experience the festive holiday atmosphere and dazzling lights – ranked for the third year as a top 10 Best Zoo Lights by USA Today! The Living Desert extends our sincere appreciation to our generous sponsors: H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, HiTech Lights, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, BXA, Sally Simonds, Susan Cooper, and Raising Cane’s.

Tanzania June 6-16, 2023 At Heaven’s wild refuge discover infinite beauty and the thrill of spotting wildlife like hippos, rhino, griffe, lion, cheetah and more.

Elephants in Botswana

India October 22 – November 4, 2023 Go deep into the heart of wild India through its most beloved resident, the Bengal tiger.

SAY I DO AT THE ZOO Recently engaged? The Living Desert makes a wonderfully wild place to say I DO. A private event at the Zoo transports guests across the globe. From lavish cocktail parties and receptions to intimate celebrations, there are a variety of venue options to choose from offering a setting unlike anywhere else in the Coachella Valley.

For more information or to join our Travel Club, please call (760) 340-4954 or email Book now, as space is limited!

Learn more about hosting your next private event: or (760) 346-0301.

Lions in Tanzania

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GIRAFFE FEEDING Come face-to-face with the world’s tallest animal and make memories to last a lifetime. Offered daily from 9:00am-3:00pm. Members: $6 / Non-members: $8

MARCH 27TH THRU APRIL 29TH - GLOW IN THE PARK Mark your calendars and get ready for The Living Desert’s brand new and larger-thanlife illuminated experience: Glow in the Park. This extraordinary nighttime event will feature intricate, immersive, and truly awe-inspiring animal and nature-scape lantern creations representing wild places from around the globe. Dozens of displays featuring hundreds of illuminated lanterns and light displays will create unforgettable moments and experiences.

MAY 7TH - PALM DESERT BREW AT THE ZOO Saturday, Palm Desert Brew at the Zoo returns – Saturday, May 7, 2022 from 6:30-9:30pm with a new format. Kick off summer with the wildest beer, food, and wine festival in the desert. Enjoy beer, wine, and libations, delight in culinary creations, and listen to a variety of live music performances throughout the evening. Explore the Rhino Savanna boardwalk, catch a glimpse of giraffe, cheetah, rhino, as you take in the sunset, play giant yard-games and more.

Tickets to Palm Desert Brew at the Zoo include event admission, entertainment, one included beverage and a surprise souvenir! Small plates will be available for purchase at our eateries and additional beverages will be available at cash bars located throughout the Zoo. Advanced reservations are required, and tickets are limited. Make your plans today for Palm Desert Brew at the Zoo at Tickets: $40 Members/General Admission. Members receive early admission at 6pm!

JUNE 13TH THRU AUGUST 1ST - SUMMER ZOOCAMP Summer ZooCamp returns with programming for children ages 5-12 years old. STEM-based programming will foster wonder and learning with special activities and encounters.


ZooCamp sessions run from 8:00am-12:00pm, Monday-Friday. Week 1: June 13-17 Week 2: June 20-24 Week 3: June 27-July 1 Week 4: July 11-15 Week 5: July 25-29 Week 6: August 1-5 Registration opens April 1, 2022; advanced registration is required.

March 27-April 29 from 6:30pm-10:00pm. Tickets are on sale now at:


Non-members: $230/Camper

APRIL 22ND - EARTH DAY Celebrate Earth Day with The Living Desert. Details to come.

Produced in partnership with Tianyu Arts and Culture, Inc, this nightly spectacular will feature traditional, hand-crafted Chinese lanterns, engaging art, and memorable photo opportunities.

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April 18-22 from 8:30am-12:30pm. Registration is now open and advanced registration is required. Members: $205/Camper

Tickets are extremely limited. Visit for more details.

Watch the desert come alive with spectacular installations that will delight guests of all ages. Explore the lighted pathways, immersive photoopportunities, and see The Living Desert in a whole new light. Unlike any other light festival in Southern California, don’t miss your chance to experience Glow in the Park only at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

Glow in the Park (Photo by Tianyu Arts and Culture)

APRIL 18TH THRU 22ND - SPRING ZOOCAMP The Living Desert is excited to offer engaging and stimulating (in-person) Spring ZooCamp programming for children ages 5-12 years old. STEM-based programming and learning will foster wonder and learning in campers with special activities and encounters.

MAY 2022

MARCH 5TH - ZOOBILEE GALA The Living Desert’s signature fundraiser returns with the 29th Annual Zoobilee Gala. Celebrate Wild Times Saturday, March 5, 2022. Zoobilee guests will experience an intimate evening of cocktails, live auctions, dinner, and spectacular entertainment feature the ABBA-inspired music of ABBAFAB.

JUNE 2022

PRIVATE SAFARI TOURS Sit back and enjoy your guided, 2-hour private safari tour. Explore the zoo’s main pathways and features, while also getting an in-depth look at the flora and fauna that make the desert’s of the world so special. Tours are offered daily for small or large groups. Advanced reservations are required and fees apply. Learn more at Book your tour by calling (760) 346-5694.

MARCH 2022



APRIL 2022


Members: $225/Camper

Glow in the Park will be held nightly. Advanced reservations are required.

Non-members: $250/Camper



W onde rfull y Wild

Kids Meet the Neighbors! Jaali and Nia aren’t alone in their new home and call many animals their new neighbors. Use the clues and unscramble the letters below to identify each animal, then arrange the boxed letters to find the answer to the bonus question.

Nightly, March 27 - April 29

1. These tall, chocolate colored antelope are surprisingly excellent swimmers.

Tickets at

R B C W A U T E K 3. Living life in the fast lane! Running up to 55 miles per hour, these animals have to outrun predators like cheetahs.

K O B G N I R P S 5. The clean-up crew of the savanna. These feathered friends help recycle the nutrients of dead animals back to the ecosystem.

V L U T R U E 7. Skilled, social hunters, the favorite food of Banded Mongoose can be found in towering termite mounds.



9. Helmeted Guinea Fowl form flocks for protection but rarely do this and prefer running as a team.


Saturday, May 7, 2022 SPRING 2022

H O V O S E 4. Their large bills not only work to catch fish but also can help them keep cool when it’s hot.

I A C N P E L 6. Living in a group called a business, this type of mongoose makes a peep sound every 3 seconds to share that the coast is clear!

R D A F W 8. Ruling like royalty underground is this head of the Naked Mole Rat colony; she is the only breeding female.


bonus: These nosey neighbors with their long necks don’t have to look too far to see how Nia and Jaali are doing.

KEY: 1. Waterbuck, 2. Hooves, 3. Springbok, 4. Pelican, 5. Vulture, 6. Dwarf, 7. Insects, 8. Queen, 9. Flight, Bonus: Giraffe.

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2. With a name that means, rock jumper, klipspringers have these that make them specially adapted for a rocky living.




47900 Portola Ave. Palm Desert, CA 92260

We are happy to have you!

MEMBERSHIP MATTERS We want to thank all of our new and renewing members who have supported us this past season. Year after year, your membership provides The Living Desert with a reliable and renewable source of support. You help give our animals and gardens the best possible care and help support our mission of desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation. Observing some of the world’s endangered desert plants and animals in a natural setting is truly a unique experience. In the coming season, we hope you can enjoy the many valuable member benefits that come with being a member of The Living Desert.

Not a member yet? Join today! Mexican Wolf