The Living Desert Zoo. In the Palm Desert. I expected a petting zoo with lizards and snakes! Imagine my complete surprise when we rounded the first corner and spied these two lazy…..cheetahs?

Lazin’ About

Cheetahs in the Palm Desert??? There were actually three of them there, but the other guy was hidden flat in the grasses.  My grandson loves cheetahs and I was so wishing he was there to see them! One of them, the most alert looking fellow, did get up to pace along what looked like a well worn path. I loved being able to capture him in the context of his grassy home in the Palm Desert.


The space they were in had no obvious fences or containment other than a large moat. He passed by me not 50 feet away and gave me this cool cat stare:

Cool Cat

The Zoo probably started out with just lizards and snakes, but has gradually grown to include more than just animals from the Palm Desert. Wikipedia says,

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a zoo and botanic garden combination dedicated solely to the deserts of the world. The programs provide environmental education, native wildlife rehabilitation, plant propagation and habitat restoration, and captive breeding of African and Sonoran Desert species, including the area’s iconic desert bighorn sheep.

Very cool. It’s one of six accredited private zoos in the country. And non-profit too!

Another animal I’ve not seen in person before is the Meerkat. My grandson loves those too. This little guy was so stern looking.


He cracked me up. When he turned his stern gaze on me, although he never said a word, I felt like I was being scolded. Remember when your mum used to do that?

The Stare Down

There were many birds there too. Some surprised me that they would be found in a desert. Like this egret:

Just finished preening himself. He’s got ‘crumbs’ in his beak!

And the little painted bunting just stole my heart:

But probably my favorite, and most stunning to photograph was the jaguar.

Stealth. Wait, is he stalking ME?

Truly, this guy was so close, if it weren’t for the glass between us I would have been in serious trouble.  My heart rate picked up as it was!

These were my favorites of the animals, but you can check out more including some of the gardens from the Palm Desert, and my last blog in this Gallery. Thanks for reading, and share if you think others might enjoy it too!

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