Monday, March 2, 2020

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - Palm Desert, CA

I joined a photography class on a visit to the Living Desert in Palm Desert recently. We had the luxury of traveling about in a motorized tram with a guide and all kinds of encouragement to take photos. I shot about 1,100 of them. I've gone through and edited my favorite photos of the animals I photographed.  

We visited the coyotes as our first stop. There are three of them. Two are siblings and they all arrived as youngsters on the same day, after a terrible storm and flood. One of them actually climbs a tree in the exhibit, but unfortunately, we were not able to see that behavior. 
The Mexican wolves was the next exhibit we visited and we went back to it at least once in an effort to catch them out and about. 

Near the Mexican wolves are some smaller exhibits. The island fox is found only on the Channel Islands off California. I've actually see one in the wild on Catalina. 
The mountain lion was hiding in its exhibit. All we could see was part of its head, including one eye. 
The nearby caracal is beautiful. We saw one at a distance in the Serengeti and saw a young one outside Cape Town at Cheetah Outreach, which we'd hoped to be able to pet, but they did not have sufficient staff that day for it to happen.  

There were several kinds of foxes in a row. One was a kit fox and I don't remember the other. These photos are of the fox I don't remember.  

A peccary in an enclosure next to the Mexican wolves. We saw and heard peccaries at a distance in Organ Pipe Cactus Nat'l Monument when the kids were young. I would love to get a photo of one in the wild. 
I've been to Cabeza Prieta NWR in southern Arizona in an unsuccessful attempt to see a wild peninsular pronghorn. They have some on exhibit at the Living Desert. This was the first time I've seen them close enough to get a good look at them (they are usually at the very back of a very large exhibit). 
Living Desert has a wonderful bighorn sheep exhibit. They have their own natural hill. We saw two of them standing at the top, including a male with a nice curl. 

The cheetah gave us a few good looks.

The jaguar stayed behind some obscured fencing with lots of visitors that made getting a good photo difficult. However, the more abstract photos highlighted the jaguar's varied markings. 

A coati lounged on an awning in its enclosure.
We saw wild dogs in Botswana, one of the highlights of my life. We saw a mother outside her den with young pups inside. At the Living Desert we saw one of nine pups make its appearance to the outside world for the first time (according to our guide). The mother (presumably) brought the pup out holding its head in her mouth and the other wild dogs crowded around wanting to get in on the action. Just before we left the enclosure, the young pup wandered over to its mother to touch noses. Very cute.

A scrum ensues as all of the wild dogs want contact with the pup.  

Finally, the pup is let down on its own and wanders for a bit. 

I love the wild dogs, so have to put in some additional photos. 
Their coats are so beautiful. 
The enclosure with reticulated giraffes, which we saw in Buffalo Springs in Kenya, also has gray crowned cranes, kudu and guinea fowl. 
People line up to feed the giraffes.
This giraffe gnaws on the trunk of a palm tree.
The gray crowned cranes, which are beautiful in their own right, gave us some wonderful displays with background scenery. We saw gray crowned cranes in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. 

Probably my favorite photo of the day.
Guinea fowl are also favorites. We've seen them in a number of different African countries.
We saw kudu in Namibia and in Zimbabwe. Another favorite.
Beautiful antlers, painted face and shaggy neck.

These Eurasian black vultures have been at the Living Desert for over 20 years. They are beautiful in their own way.

The meerkat exhibit is across from the Eurasian black vultures.

The leopard and striped hyena are at the back of an eating area and I don't believe I've seen them before. The viewing area for the hyena was small and I didn't get a good view. 

There are three young dromedary camels. Two of them were laying down and snuggling. 
At the end of our photography class, I took a little time to go to some exhibits on my own we'd not visited. That also allowed me to see some of the wild inhabitants of the Living Desert. 
This beautiful wild Audobon warbler is the first one I've ever photographed. 
A wild western side-blotched lizard.
Another one nearby.
These wild mallards were in a pool outside a bird enclosure.
Female mallard.
This great horned owl gives me a glimpse of his yellow eyes. 
The black crowned night heron has beautiful red eyes.
The great blue heron is one of the most beautiful birds.
The white heron is also beautiful.
But the head of the turkey vulture is about as ugly as things get. 
This beautiful little area of palms is one of the hidden gems of the Living Desert. 
The skirt of a palm tree.
Looks like a pencil cactus.
A wild California ground squirrel - also below.

I saw lots of wild cottontail rabbits. I was finally able to photograph one outside the pronghorn exhibit. 
I love photographing wildlife in the wild. But being able to go to a zoo and see and photograph them is also fun, albeit significantly down the excitement scale.  

1 comment:

  1. These are fabulous photographs. My favorites are the two photos of the caracal, and the cheetah photo looks like you could have taken it in Africa.