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What do conservationists at the Living Desert do in extreme heat?

The conservation team at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens works year-round to protect the local ecosystem. In a recent blog post by the Living Desert’s Director of Conservation, Dr. James Danoff-Burg, the daily routine of a conservationist is detailed along with what they're able to do when temperatures exceed workable conditions.

Dr. Danoff-Burg calls the period between October and May "eight months of paradise", in which the Living Desert conservation team is able to continue their work. Much of the conservation team's work includes reintroduction and recovery efforts, community-based conservation, providing protection and insurances to endangered animals and field research.

Dr. Danoff-Burg says that the Living Desert Conservation team pays particular attention to, "...endangered species including the desert tortoise, desert pupfish, Sonoran pronghorn, and monarch butterflies."

Conservation efforts are often strenuous and includes heavy-lifting, pulling, cutting, digging, and moving water, trees, soil, and rocks. When summer heat rolls around, with temperatures in the Coachella Valley often exceeding 110º, the Living Desert conservation team has to adjust their practices in the interest of protecting themselves from the harsh desert conditions.

“When we’re working out in the field when it’s hot, we shift our hours so that it’s crazy early and we get out at 4 o’clock in the morning so we can get our work done before the heat of the day comes on," said Dr. Danoff-Burg.

When working in the field becomes unsafe during the day, the Living Desert conservation pivots to on-site projects like the Sonoran Pond, which houses the desert pupfish.

“A lot of the work that we do in the summer is grant writing proposals for future projects, growing the plants that we have for desert tortoise restorations, the restoration of Salt Creek…So there's work that we can do here, when it gets very hot," Kyle Munroe said.

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Tatum Larsen

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