The Desert Plant Conservation Center serves many functions, including growing plants to provide additional vegetation for The Living Desert's animals.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE LIVING DESERT ZOO AND GARDENS
In celebration of National Public Gardens Week, now through May 16, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens has opened its new Desert Plant Conservation Center, an exhibit of desert plants ranging from seed to mature plants.
The center, nestled across from the pronghorn habitat in the North America section of the park, invites guests to explore and experience many of the plants they know and love from the park’s gardens and desert ecosystem all in a new setting.
“Plant conservation is an important pillar of The Living Desert’s mission and we are proud to showcase our efforts at this new center. Through the preservation and propagation of native plants we can further our work of desert conservation from the ground up,” said Dr. James Danoff-Burg, director of Conservation. “Learning about the relationship between desert plants and animals is critical to helping the public understand the importance of conservation and their role to play.”
The Desert Plant Conservation Center serves a variety of functions. As an official Plant Rescue Center, designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Center cares for plants that have been confiscated due to illegal wildlife trafficking, such as the popular saguaro cactus. As a propagation garden, many of the plants in the center are being reproduced for habitat restoration projects like the desert pupfish habitat at Salt Creek, near the Salton Sea. The center will also propagate other plant species to provide additional vegetation for recreating native habitats for The Living Desert’s animals, and provide nutritional resources, both of which are essential to their survival.
The Desert Plant Conservation Center is open to the public during park operating hours. The Living Desert is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with last admission at 4 p.m. Face coverings and advanced reservations are required. Tickets can be purchased online at LivingDesert.org.