The Living Desert

47900 Portola Avenue
Palm Desert, CA 92260

760-346-5694

Our Mission:
The Living Desert’s mission is desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.
The objectives of The Living Desert are:

  • to preserve a portion of the Colorado Desert in its natural state;
  • to foster, through interpretive exhibits, programs and publication, an awareness of, and an appreciation for, the variety of plants and animals in worldwide ecosystems;
  • to build up under controlled conditions, populations of various species of desert animals and plants threatened with extinction in the wild state;
  • and to foster through cooperative research and educational programs, biological studies contributing to the protection of desert species in a wild state.

Our Organization:
We are a non-profit, 501c3 (exempt from taxation) organization with a volunteer Board of Trustees (40), and a paid CEO/President.
The Living Desert’s Board of Trustees is made up of business and community leaders who work with the organization to secure gifts for capital, programming and endowment expansion. Its purpose is to support and enhance zoological programs by providing facilities, funds and advice. The President and the Trustees oversee the Zoo Endowment which helps to provide long-term stability for The Living Desert.

Histroy:
The Living Desert was established in 1970 by several trustees of the Palm Springs Desert Museum who foresaw the impact that resort development would have on their local desert ecosystem. This foresight led to an interpretive nature trail and preserve in Palm Desert. Among the trustees was Philip L. Boyd who also founded the Riverside campus of the University of California and the Deep Canyon Research Station in Palm Desert. Among his first tasks was to hire a resident naturalist. This person turned out to be a young woman with energy, intelligence and ambition, as well as experience as a zoo keeper and park ranger, plus graduate work in wildlife biology. Karen Sausman was President and CEO of The Living Desert for forty years and has recently retired. The vision that built The Living Desert and the love of the desert shared by Phillip Boyd, Karen Sausman, our members, volunteers, staff, trustees, and friends, will be carried forward by our new President and CEO, Allen Monroe.

For almost four decades The Living Desert has been engaged in the important work of preserving, conserving and interpreting the desert and all its varied plant and animal life. Even as we take immense pride in our accomplishments over the last forty years, we remain as dedicated as ever to the goals that initially inspired us when we first began operations in March of 1970.

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster
Please use "Flag This Place" to alert us about content that is inappropriate or needs immediate attention. Nothing you submit will be shared with other site visitors.

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »


Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today

JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR

  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in Palm Desert
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner
JOIN NOW