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“Easy...nice”

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park
Ranked #2 of 24 things to do in Carlsbad
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Overlooking the Pecos River Valley, this fascinating park exhibits the varied plant and animal life of the arid Chihuahuan Desert region. Visitors can observe caged animals like snakes, lizards and birds of prey, plus larger animals such as bison and antelope, which are held in pens. Or walk along a nature trail past cacti, agaves, yuccas and other native plant life.
Reviewed 2 June 2013

Cheap, easy to see...
They seem to care about the animal... but is still a small zoo.
You can get close to some animals to whatch them.
If you're not far from it plan a visit (not more than half day...). I wouldn't go if I have to travel a lot to reach it.

Thank TRAVEL2FEEL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"plants and animals"
in 38 reviews
"gift shop"
in 35 reviews
"bison"
in 22 reviews
"prairie dogs"
in 23 reviews
"state park"
in 25 reviews
"reptile house"
in 13 reviews
"mountain lion"
in 16 reviews
"black bear"
in 12 reviews
"plant life"
in 9 reviews
"local flora and fauna"
in 9 reviews
"bring water"
in 12 reviews
"new mexico"
in 23 reviews
"visitor center"
in 12 reviews
"staff was friendly"
in 6 reviews
"on display"
in 7 reviews
"main building"
in 6 reviews
"enjoyed our visit"
in 8 reviews
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353 - 357 of 441 reviews

Reviewed 1 June 2013 via mobile

Lots of interesting animals.. Most were sleeping, but what do you expect.. I would be too on a hot day! Only $5 for admission and we spent 2+ hours wandering around. Definetly worth a stop if you have time to kill. Bring water!!

Thank Paigemarie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 May 2013

The place is worth a visit. The gardens with all the different plants found in a desert is very interesting. They rescue birds of prey and animals - a bald eagle with a missing wing and not able to fly. The center has interactive things for kids as well as the kid in adults.

Thank Makattak59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 May 2013

Very interesting and so nice to see the plants and animals. The story about Maggie the painting bear is so interesting. You can buy her paintings at the gift shop and so many other things.

Thank Sarah L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 27 May 2013

We almost gave this state park a miss but we were in no hurry to get to our next stop so we popped in for a quick look. We wound up staying for several hours. I would consider this primarily an educational facility rather than a zoo. The visitor center provides a treasure trove of information about Chihuahuan desert flora and fauna. The displays, indoors and out are excellent.

The live animal displays are focused on native species including elk, bison, black bear, wolf, bobcat and mountain lion. Maggie the Bear was in hiding during our visit but the mountain lion decided we were worth a close-up look. Apparently we were deemed to be neither threat nor food so he stretched out in the sunny patch closest to us and started purring like a major house cat.

Across the park we learned that not all female elk are favored by all male elk. According to a ranger, one of the females was intensely disliked by the resident male. For her safety she is housed with the bison. The bison are cool with the arrangement and the elk seems to believe she's just one of the gang. Other exhibits highlight nocturnal creatures, reptiles, some native and non-native birds and a prairie dog village.

We especially enjoyed the botanical gardens which introduces the visitor to the variety of habitats found in the Chihuahuan desert. Once again, the signage was very good at identifying the many species. The cactus and succulent greenhouse is a relatively new addition to the park.  Cacti and succulents from around the world are grown in the greenhouse. Some of the plants look like they are straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

The park exceeded our expectations and is definitely an asset for the area. There was allot of construction going on so we will have to see what's been added the next time we are in the area. If you are at all interested in native plants and animals, we recommend The Living Zoo and Gardens be added to your Carlsbad "things to do" list.

Thank Davis K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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