From fur to fowl, urban environs are replete with creatures
By Susan Stapleton
Las Vegas paints an exotic stripe, and not in the form of the fashions tourists wear when visiting. No, these glamorous looks come from the lions, tigers, birds and fish found up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Here’s a look at four ways you can find, and sometimes interact with, wild animals
in Las Vegas.
Guests can already walk through Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage to see bottlenose dolphins and big cats. They can even spend an entire day being a trainer with the dolphins. Now the attraction offers something guests may never have known was on their bucket list—painting with the dolphins.
After a brief orientation about the habitat and introduction to these marine mammals, guests choose a background for the canvas along with three paint colors. A trainer dips the paint in the first color and lets the dolphin go to town with an illustration. The dolphins, holding on to a buoy, hold safe paintbrushes in their mouths to create the drawing. Each dolphin has its own style of painting, creating a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
Guests can partake in this adventure at noon and 3:30 p.m. daily, and only two people can participate at a time. The Mirage, $199 per person. 702.791.7188
Prowling with Tigers
Next door to the Dolphin Habitat sits Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden, an enclosure featuring the magicians’ collection of royal white tigers, white lions, panthers and leopards. Guests can get up close and personal with these big cats as they prowl inside cages that reflect their natural habitat. $19.95. 702.791.7188
A Close Encounter
While the Shark Reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay does not have any great whites, it does contain more than 2,000 animals swimming in 1.6 million gallons of water. Sharks of all types swim along with their tropical pals such as endangered green sea turtles, giant rays, jellies, piranhas and the rare golden crocodiles all surrounded by a shipwreck. Among the sharks, find sand tiger, sandbar, gray reef, Galapagos, nurse, zebra and white tip reef varieties from 4 to 9 feet long.
Guests with scuba certification can participate in the Dive With Sharks Program. The three- to four-hour experience goes for $650 for one person and $1,000 for two, on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. For another aquarium experience, check out the area behind the hotel’s reception desk, where fish, turtles and small sharks are on display. Mandalay Bay, $18. 702.632.4555
For the Birds
Some of the most exotic animals in Las Vegas come in the form of birds. Head to the 15-acre Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo for a collection of turtles, eight species of ducks, black swans, black neck swans, a 5-pound white sturgeon, several 30-pound koi fish, a 40-pound catfish, a 50-pound grass carp, five parrots, 10 pink flamingos, two ibis and now two brown pelicans, the newest addition.
The two recently rehabilitated brown pelicans were rescued by the Pacific Wildlife Project and only recently joined the habitat. Dubbed Bugsy and Virginia after Bugsy Siegel, who opened the Flamingo in 1946, and his girlfriend Virginia Hill, the pair now have their own section in the exhibit.
The attraction, open 8 a.m.-dusk, holds two presentations daily at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Flamingo, free. 702.733.3111