The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum west of Tucson is considered a world class museum... about deserts.
Established in 1952, it covers about 9 ha and has 3.5 km of walking trails (for the most part easily accessible to everyone). It is three things rolled into one: a zoo featuring over 230 different kinds of animals, a natural history museum aimed at newcomers to the desert, and a botanical garden with over 1200 different types of plants. Almost 500,000 people visited the Sonoran Desert Museum last year.
I'm not a fan of zoos. Though I understand the educational component of zoos, I don't believe animals should be kept in captivity, especially for the enjoyment of humans (the Vancouver Aquarium comes to mind). There is something troubling indeed about seeing a wolf pace back and forth, or a mountain goat, or any other creature for that matter.
The truly wonderful thing about the Desert Museum, apart from an impressive aviary, is the 25 km of travel from Tucson to the site, through an amazing landscape of saguaros that seemed unearthly.
Travelling back to Tucson, was an entirely different experience
because of the changing light, creating new shadows and patterns on the rugged hills.
The drive was breathtaking, as is much in the Outback of Arizona.
Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2014.