The Living Desert has already visited 155 schools, senior centers and businesses this year with its new W.O.W. program; the acronym is for Wildlife on Wheels. The new program gets plenty of “wows” from both kids and adults alike when animal handlers and their scaly and winged counterparts tour the Coachella Valley.

The program was kick-started after The Living Desert received word that it would receive the last Coachella Valley Spotlight award of 2012. As part of the honor, The Living Desert was presented a $25,000 grant from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation live on CBS Local 2. Additional feature stories will follow on “Eye on the Desert” throughout December.

“The Coachella Valley Spotlight has been a great opportunity for us to share some of the wondrous creatures we have at The Living Desert with people who can’t come to us,” said Stacey Johnson, President and CEO of The Living Desert. “The Berger Foundation and CBS Local 2 have helped Wildlife on Wheels become a successful reality to share our animals, messages and mission with more of the community.”

The Living Desert is committed to conservation through preservation, education and appreciation. The zoo and botanical gardens has more than 500 wild animals including striped hyenas, camels, zebras, big horn sheep and large cats. Live shows, a children’s discovery center, animal carousel, tranquil gardens and hiking trails also attract the more than 330,000 people who visit The Living Desert each year.

“The Living Desert has been a part of our family ever since we moved the foundation to the valley,” said Ronald Auen President of the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “Bringing the zoo to you is such a great idea! I’m glad our gift could help.”

“It’s been our pleasure showing the community the colorful stories at The Living Desert,” said Mike Stutz, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates CBS Local 2. “Our valley’s only zoo offers so much more than camel rides and the chance to feed a giraffe, it is also a leader in protecting our desert and its animals.”

The Living Desert was established in 1970 with the vision of Phillip Boyd and Karen Sausman. Since then, the grounds have expanded from 360 protected acres to 1,200 acres, one thousand of which remain in their natural state.

To raise community awareness of the non-profit and its programs, CBS Local 2 also featured The Living Desert in public service announcements and on the website in December.  For more information about the The Living Desert, W.O.W. or its other programs go to