The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens Reopens as an “outdoor recreation facility”

by Publisher CoachellaValley | December 16, 2020 11:18 pm

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens reopens daytime operations as an “outdoor recreation facility” tomorrow Thursday, December 17. WildLights remains canceled.

Under the State of California’s December 6th regional stay-at-home order, outdoor recreational facilities are permitted to operate with additional safety precautions.

Set on more than 1,200 total acres, The Living Desert features miles of hiking trails and paved garden pathways, allowing guests the opportunity to pursue physically distanced, personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise.

“The Living Desert is known for a variety of attributes including being a beautiful place to walk and hike,” said Allen Monroe, President/CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

“We are grateful that we can continue to provide our community the opportunity to safely connect with nature during these challenging times.”

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens will reopen daytime operations as an outdoor recreation facility Thursday, December 17.

To adhere to the State of California’s outdoor recreation facility operating requirements, The Living Desert will close all food and beverage outlets, areas of gathering, indoor exhibits, giraffe feeding, and the carousel.

Advanced reservations are required for all admissions including members and guests. In addition, face coverings continue to be required for all guests over 3 years of age.

The original mandate from the State of California included zoos, however, The Living Desert does not fit the traditional zoo definition with its vast hiking trails and more than 50 botanical gardens. The cities of Palm Desert, Indian Wells, and Rancho Mirage, along with the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) wrote formal letters to Riverside County stating that The Living Desert officially meets the criteria and intent of an outdoor recreation facility. After legal review, the City of Palm Desert issued a determination that The Living Desert was officially classified as an outdoor recreation facility. Therefore, The Living Desert has outlined a revised COVID-19 reopening strategy with the following modifications:

Health and Safety Precautions:

Advanced reservations required, limited guest capacity, required face coverings for all guests 3 years and older, easy access to numerous handwashing/sanitizing stations, in addition to the Park’s current COVID-19 safe operating procedures.

What will be Open:

Paved walking paths and unpaved hiking trails; The Appel Gift Shop will be open with 20% capacity.

What will be Temporarily Closed:

All food and beverage outlets, indoor exhibit spaces, outdoor play spaces, giraffe feeding, wildlife and reptile shows, keeper chats, carousel, private tours, and other points of gathering. WildLights remains canceled.

For more information, visit LivingDesert.org/Health

google map and directions[1]

Covid-19 updates

reopening preparedness plan

KEY MODIFICATIONS: 

faqs – new operations 

ARE YOU OPEN AND WHAT ARE THE RULES OF ENTRY? 

The Living Desert is currently open for daytime operations as of December 17th.  

The Living Desert is operating as an outdoor recreation facility, as permitted by the State of California. 

Park Hours are open 8a.m. until 5p.m. with last admissions at 4p.m.

Guests are required to: 

Not enter if they are showing any signs of illness, including fever or flu-like symptoms 

Wear a face covering (mask, bandana, or neck gaiter) that covers their nose and mouth or a face shield while on grounds 

Maintain proper social/physical distancing of at least six feet 

Refrain from congregating with others that are not within their household 

Obey all posted signage, conditions for entry, and staff instructions 

Guests are encouraged to: 

Maintain proper personal hygiene including frequent handwashing 

Utilize hand sanitizers available 

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild.

WHAT CAN I SEE AND DO WHILE THERE? 

What’s Open:  The paved walking paths and unpaved hiking trails. The Appel Gift Shop will be open with 20% capacity.

Temporarily Closed: All food and beverage outlets, indoor exhibit spaces, outdoor play spaces, giraffe feeding, wildlife and reptile shows, keeper chats, carousel, private tours, and other points of gathering will be closed.

WHAT ABOUT MY MEMBERSHIP?

The Living Desert is committed to providing our members with twelve months of benefits, which includes year-round access to the Zoo. Members will receive an auto-extension of 10 days added to their membership. There is no action needed by you and members can use their existing membership card and ID. 

ARE THE CONCESSION AND RETAIL OUTLETS OPEN?

All food and beverage outlets will be closed. The Appel Gift Shop will be open with 20% capacity. 

WHAT SHOULD I BE PREPARED FOR? 

We are looking forward to welcoming our community back to The Living Desert, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate this new normal. Given the change in the season, you are encouraged to come prepared for the heat (hat, sunscreen, water, proper footwear, cool clothing). In addition, guests should bring a face covering or face shield as they are required for guests over age 3, although a limited number of masks will be available for purchase at the Appel Gift Shop. Guests assume the liability for the potential of exposure to COVID-19.

WHAT IS THE LIVING DESERT DOING TO KEEP ME SAFE? 

The Living Desert has implemented several additional safety protocols to ensure guest, staff, and animal safety. 

I HAD TICKETS FOR A DAY YOU WERE CLOSED. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW? 

Anyone with general admission tickets during our temporary closure of December 7-17, 2020, should have received an email with information on how to reschedule, receive a refund for their booking or donate their unused tickets back to the Zoo. 

Ticket holders who had reservations while we were closed have a couple of options: 

Please be aware that response time may be slow, as we are managing a high-volume of inquiries. We thank you for your patience. 

I HAVE TICKETS FOR WILDLIGHTS FOR A DATE THAT HAS BEEN CANCELLED. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?

WildLights reservations between December 11-27, 2020 should have received an email with information on how to reschedule, receive a refund for their booking or donate their unused tickets back to the Zoo. 

WILL WILDLIGHTS BE RESCHEDULED? 

Our existing WildLights season has been cancelled; there are no WildLights nights scheduled at this time. 

We are currently evaluating the feasibility of rescheduling WildLights for dates in the future, but do not have a decision yet. 

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Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://www.google.com/maps/place/The+Living+Desert+Zoo+and+Gardens/@33.6999789,-116.3744166,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xe1ac25e4ac83048a!8m2!3d33.6999789!4d-116.3744166
  2. : https://www.instagram.com/CoachellaValley

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