Desert Critters

Bighorn Sheep at the Living Desert

It’s always a bit frustrating to look at zoo animals. They seem to be hyper-aware of the human gaze and prefer to avoid it. It reminds me of a former trip to Nova Scotia, where Martine was determined to find a moose. So we went to the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park north of Halifax to see their moose. Well, the moose was there, but didn’t want to be seen; so he hid behind some plants. When we tried to circle around to see him, we found the route closed. Not only closed but guarded by a determined naturalist. So much for that!

I have seen bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) only two or three times in my life: once at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego County, and the rest of the time at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, CA. And not all the time, either. This particular day, they seemed to congregate in full view of park visitors.

Another Bighorn Sheep Right by the Fence

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I wasn’t particularly upset at the animals that were in hiding. I had visited three or four times before, and I was more interested in just taking it easy in the shade during a typically hot desert day. Still, it was nice to see the bighorns come crowding down from the hill.

Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep at Palm Desert’s Living Desert

Bighorn Sheep at Palm Desert’s Living Desert

Christmas weekend was our third or fourth visit to the Living Desert in Palm Desert, California, but it was the first time I actually saw any bighorn sheep close enough to photograph. Bighorn sheep are famously shy with regards to human contact—for good reason. Every once in a while, one could see them at a great distance wending their way across some remote crags.

Once, at Capital Reef National Park in Utah, we saw a group of them close up. But this is the first time we saw any of them in California, though I’ve looked at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley, and other places over the last thirty years.