From Big Bend National Park, we headed north to Carlsbad, New Mexico. We had a ticket for a cave tour at Carlsbad Caverns National park for Monday, and arrived in Carlsbad on Friday to spend the weekend resting and doing errands. After spending Saturday washing clothes and replenishing our supply of groceries, we spent Sunday morning cleaning (with a short break to play in the indoor pool at Carlsbad RV Park & Campground where we stayed the weekend) and then headed out to visit a nearby state park, “Living Desert Zoo & Gardens.

A sculpture of common desert species at the entrance to Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park.

A sculpture of common desert species at the entrance to Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park.

Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park more than lived up to its name. I expected a desert garden with a few small animals on display, but this was a full-fledged zoo, including a mountain lion, bobcat, bear, wolf, elk, pronghorn, bison, mule deer, prairie dog, several bird species including bald eagle, golden eagle, raven, roadrunner, and various owls, and finally John’s favorite resident, a javelina. We happened to enter the zoo at feeding time, so the raven and javelina who were near the entrance were particularly inquisitive of us, and we had the opportunity to watch the javelina eat. All this for a mere $5 entrance fee!

Lena the Javelina stiffing at us.

Lena the Javelina stiffing at us.

Lena eating dinner.

Lena eating dinner.

The raven was very interested in us - likely hoping we had some food for it.

The raven was very interested in us – likely hoping we had some food for it.

The enclosures at this zoo were a bit larger than those at the last zoo we happened upon, where I was disturbed at the smallness of the cages. I have very mixed feelings about zoos. I think the role they play in education, conservation and endangered species reintroduction is invaluable, but seeing caged wild animals, despondent and bored, is deeply saddening.

Resident bald eagle, who shared a cage with the golden eagle. I think his wing was injured. The golden eagle’s food was thrown up onto a high shelf, and the bald eagle’s food onto a low shelf with a log-ramp to hop up there. As we watched, the bald eagle watched us back and small free birds snuck into the cage to peck at his food.

Resident bald eagle, who shared a cage with the golden eagle. I think his wing was injured. The golden eagle’s food was thrown up onto a high shelf, and the bald eagle’s food onto a low shelf with a log-ramp to hop up there. As we watched, the bald eagle watched us back while small, wild birds snuck into the cage to peck at his food.

Elf owl. I love watching owls heads as the turn all the way around to keep a watchful eye. (Disclaimer…we did not record the owl species, but from a little research I *think* it is an elf owl).

Elf owl. I love watching owls heads as the turn all the way around to keep a watchful eye. (Disclaimer…we did not record the owl species, but from a little research I *think* it is an elf owl).

A pair of green parrots.

A pair of green parrots.

Pronghorns staring at us.

Pronghorns staring at us.

Relaxing elk.

Relaxing elk.

Yet another beautiful desert sunset marks the end of the day.

Yet another beautiful desert sunset marks the end of the day.

3 Thoughts on “Living Desert Zoo & Gardens

  1. maudie engel on January 26, 2014 at 7:43 pm said:

    CUTE ZOO, ENOUGH LOCAL HABITAT, AWSOME SUNSET’S MY FAVORITE!!

  2. Thanks. From a loyal voyeur.

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