Baby giraffe (aww) takes top honors at Living Desert Zoo – Press Enterprise

If I say everyone loves giraffes, am I sticking my nose out?

And then there are the baby giraffes. Aww, baby giraffes. Maybe we love giraffes because no matter how old they seem to be at that tricky stage.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert has nine adult giraffes and, since the end of February, a baby giraffe. His birth caused a stir on local television and social media. A donor couple paid $75,000 at an auction gala for naming rights.

Susan and Jim Gould named it Cole, after their late son, who loved the living desert.

I was already thinking that I should visit the Living Desert, which appears on Southern California travel lists as a must. Cole offered a topical angle.

Before going on vacation to Palm Springs, I tried to arrange an official visit and interviews at the zoo through the publicity department, but received no response to a follow-up email or phone call. .

Puzzled, but not discouraged, one afternoon I drove to Palm Desert anyway, 12 miles beyond Palm Springs, paid the $30 front door ($28 seniors, $18 children) and registered.

A friendly docent handed me a map and started going over the highlights. Suddenly, she noticed over my shoulder that one of the zoo’s black rhinos had appeared in its enclosure a few feet away, lumbering down the grassy slope.

A black rhino roams its savannah at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

I rushed to the fence and took pictures, then came back to resume our orientation conversation.

Established in 1970, the zoo and botanical garden is dedicated to desert life in Africa, Australia and the Americas. At 1,200 acres, there’s more desert life than you might think.

If he hops, flies or swims, he can be part of the over 450 represented animalsof addaxa horned bovid found in the Sahara, Grevy’s zebraan african equine with op-art stripes.

There are turtles, bobcats, foxes, jaguars, wild dogs and cheetahs, all in natural settings, which means you might not spot them all. I spotted a bighorn sheep on a rocky slope, a majestic sight.

And then there were naked mole-rats, tiny hairless things that scurried around inside a network of glazed burrows and were fascinating to watch.

The gardens include agaves, milkweeds, milkweeds and various cacti, including one named jumping cholla, which thankfully stood still.

A fun feature is the model garden railway with its 3,300 feet of track. The Bighorn Railway is similar to the sprawling layout of the LA County Fair.

A miniature replica of the Wig Wam Motel in San Bernardino is part of the Bighorn Railroad model layout at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

My eye was caught by one miniature scene in particular: a version of the Wig Wam Motel with its individual teepee rooms. San Bernardino has a surviving example of what was once a chain of motels. Even in a zoo, a reporter can find a local angle.

I covered about two-thirds of the way before giving in. It was a hot afternoon. Plus, with most museums, zoos and the like, it’s impossible to see everything in one visit, so why bother?

Before leaving, I inquired about Cole.

The head of the publicity department continued to be elusive. But two friendly young employees came to walk me.

They were chatty and answered all my questions, with the caveat that their names could not be used. Sigh. OKAY.

Cole was born on February 21 during zoo hours and near the fence in front of onlookers. The birth, known as gout, lasted about two hours. Shellie is the mother, Kellie the father.

Baby Cole and his mother, Shellie, share a moment shortly after his birth on February 21 at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. (Courtesy of the Living Desert Zoo)

“There was a huge crowd. Every time Shellie pushed everyone said ‘Oooooh’,” the male employee said. “When she fell, everyone cheered.”

Kellie, no absent father, was present. “They were both stroking her,” the staffer said. “Boy, that was cool.” The whole herd had gathered around it, including a grandmother, Dadisi.

Adding to the interest, not only did the birth take place in full view of zoo patrons, which rarely happens, but Shellie chose the perfect location for the zoo’s live webcam.

At 5 feet 10 inches and 143 pounds, Cole was immediately taller than most people, but as tall as her parents’ legs. Instagram posts have been popular and she is said to be a viral star on TikTok.

A giraffe eats hay while another roams in the distance at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

As we stood at the fence that afternoon, the giraffes were all out of sight behind the hill. I had seen a few of the adult giraffes earlier, near and far, but not Cole. And I had watched children and adults fed a giraffe hand lettuce ($8 fee) and got selfies, from a platform that puts the two of you face to face.

On my way out I stopped in the gift shop to see what giraffe items they were selling. Not yellow and brown spotted coats, but several other items.

Stuffed giraffes are among the items for sale at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens gift shop in Palm Desert. Although the birth of a baby giraffe has sparked additional interest, “giraffes have always been a big seller here,” says an employee. (Photo by David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

“We have little giraffe stuff here and there,” an employee said, pointing out various stuffed giraffes. A little one goes inside, why not? – a colorful purse, from which the head and neck of the giraffe protrude adorably.

Another employee says: “If the children feed the giraffe, they come all excited.

I can not believe. Part of me regretted not feeding the giraffe, and I’m an adult.

Although I am not a parent, the existence of animal offspring must make the youngest curious. Does Cole get kids to ask their parents where baby giraffes come from?

It might be as difficult to explain as the feat must be to accomplish.

I imagine that everything starts with the cutting.


Hollywood’s Magic Castle has been purchased by a video game magnate and lifelong magician, who pledges to keep the Edwardian mansion as a clubhouse and performance venue for the Academy of Magical Arts, its use since 1963. Did you know that the 1909 house was built by a Redlands Orange GrowerRollin Lane, or he modeled it on Redlands 1897 Kimberly Crest House? It just adds to the magic.

David Allen has something up his sleeve every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Email [email protected], call 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.

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