(Artesia, NM) Hi 75 Lo 48 – It was another sunny day, and we decided to do a little more sightseeing before we leave tomorrow for El Paso. When we visited Carlsbad Caverns yesterday, one of the rangers recommended we check out the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, just outside the town of Carlsbad. Since we’re actually in the Chihuahua Desert we thought it might be good to learn as much as we can about desert life. (Click on photos to enlarge them.)
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is actually a state park. It’s laid out on a generally circular trail covering a little more than a mile, with examples of desert flora and fauna, interspersed with exhibits of some of the animals that live in the southwest.
The trail was nicely paved.
There were many informational plaques naming and describing the various kinds of flowers, cacti, yuccas and all kinds of other hardy plants that thrive in the desert.
We were told that all of the animals in the park are rescue animals, which is very commendable. Some of them were hiding, but many of them were out and about. The aviary had many birds, large and small, such as this bald eagle.
And this owl.
This gray wolf was snoozing in a tree.
These javelinas are unusual animals. They’re often mistaken for wild pigs, but they’re actually in the peccary family. Sure look like pigs to me.
We could watch these playful mountain lions for hours.
These bison looked like they were out of their element, and not very happy to be here. It would have been nice to see them in a larger enclosure, with more room to roam.
Same with this beautiful elk.
But these prairie dogs don’t need much room. They seem to just stand by their holes, on guard from intruders. They’re so cute!
Parts of the trail were on the edge of the park, giving some beautiful views of the REAL Chihuahua Desert.
At the end of the trail was a building with the interesting name “Succulents of the Southwest.” We didn’t know what succulents are (they’re fleshy plants that hold water, mainly different cacti). We did notice what looked like a large air conditioner on the side of the building, so we thought we’d go in to check it out and cool off. Well, were we surprised… that “air conditioner” was actually a giant heater. It was about 115 degrees inside! It was to provide a more natural environment for all the plants inside that grow in different (and hotter) parts of the southwest, such as the large Saguaro Cactus.
We had a good time. The admission was $5 each, so it was a pretty good value.
This morning before we left for the half hour trip to Carlsbad, we drove to downtown Artesia to look at a life size bronze statue that stands as a memorial to the oil workers that established the New Mexico oil industry.
This plaque fully describes the statue, called “The Derrick Floor.”
It was remarkably detailed in showing the different workers who operate an oil rig, as described by these plaques.
That about wraps up our visit to southeast New Mexico. It’s been a fun three days, and tomorrow it’s on to El Paso. I’m looking forward to dinner at Cattlemen’s, one of the finest steakhouses in the country. Oh, and we’ll do some other sightseeing too.
See you in two days.