GLMVZoos: Living Desert Zoo & Gardens’ Australian Adventures Receives AZA Exhibit Award 

Australian Adventures sign

September 23, 2021 • Taylor Clark • DEIJA, Sustainable Design, Zoos + Aquariums

We’re celebrating our incredible partners at the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens for receiving the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) 2021 Significant Achievement Award for their Australian Adventures Habitat! As part of an ongoing master plan, TESSERE provided architectural, landscape architectural and site planning services throughout this project.  


“The Living Desert presented TESSERE with the challenge of taking one of the oldest buildings on campus and reimagining it as a guest experience and support space for a walk through aviary as their first foray into an Australian habitat. Because of the team’s collaborative efforts, the end result features all of the desert and botanical elements that are unique to Palm Desert, but it also provides a brand new interactive and immersive experience that is unlike anything else at the Zoo. We were honored to take a piece of TLD’s history and make it part of their future.”, says Chris Kliewer, Project Manager. 

This habitat brings an engaging and immersive experience to guests, showcasing unique desert species native to Australia. Bennett’s wallabies are the stars in this sunny habitat, but other species include mammals, birds, and reptiles. 


Included in the project was the renovation of an old building which incorporated key aspects of welfare design into the habitat. The first and most significant was the decision to invest in a fully netted space allowing all species of reptiles, wallabies, and birds to have 24/7 access. Animals don’t need to be managed in holding areas each night for climate reasons or predation issues.  


The second key design feature provides full transparency of animal care with visibility into conditioned space for the wallabies. Wallabies have the choice to go into these conditioned spaces or any of the areas within the habitat. This feature highlights the level of care provided while ensuring a great guest experience.  


The habitat opened to the public in March 2020. Additional master plan projects are actively under construction and are anticipated to be open to the public in 2022.  


Want to visit? More about the habitat can be found here.