Animal Magnetism

Fill your quotient of cute as you interact with everything from butterflies and pink flamingos to lions and tigers—oh my!

Discover family fun on and off the Strip with these animal attractions that please every time.

Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge

Contains 22,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert uplands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge provides habitat for at least 24 plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Walk the Crystal Springs Interpretive Boardwalk Trail, enjoy a picnic and engage in some wildlife watching here. The best time for wildlife viewing is now—just like people, animals prefer the moderate temperatures!

Desert National Wildlife Refuge

The largest refuge outside of Alaska, Desert National Wildlife Refuge encompasses six major mountain ranges and showcases the abundance of nature found in Southern Nevada. There are approximately 320 bird species, 53 mammal species, 35 reptile species, and four amphibian species, as well as more than 500 plant species. Depending on the time of year, there are 600-800 bighorn sheep on the refuge.

Flamingo Wildlife Habitat

A refuge for the Flamingo’s namesake bird, this lush habitat is also populated by swans, ducks, pelicans, koi and turtles. They live on the perfectly manicured grounds that once were the site of Bugsy Siegel’s original casino; you can even visit a memorial dedicated to him by the waterfalls.

Las Vegas Springs Preserve

Learn about creatures indigenous to the desert, the rich history of Nevada, how to reduce your carbon footprint and much more at the vibrant Springs Preserve, a love letter to the Silver State. From interactive exhibits such as how to escape a flash flood to getting up-close and personal with desert life a day just seems like too little time to spend at this  wonderous experience. Now open each fall and spring, the preserve’s new Butterfly Habitat features hundreds of butterflies, such as Mourning Cloaks, Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, American Ladies, Monarchs and Queens.

Lion Habitat Ranch

Discover the habitat that locals and those in the know returnto again and again—once you’ve been out to visit the Lion Habitat Ranch, it’ll be a must for each visit. Home to the animals once on display at MGM Grand’s Lion Habitat, the ranch houses lions that are weeks old to 17 years and every age in between. They receive the royal treatment from a caring and knowledgeable staff whose first task is to look out for the lions’ well-being. There are a number of opportunities for interaction, including photographs with the cubs. Call ahead to inquire about hours and the best time to see the animals at play.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

A 197,000-acre National Conservation Area with more than 30 miles of hiking trails, accessible off the 13-mile scenic loop road that takes you through the canyon. There are numerous animal-viewing possibilities here, whether on a hike through one of the 19 marked trails where big horn sheep and waterfowl can be seen, or during a walk through the visitor’s center, where burro sighting are common, and Mohave Max, the facility’s desert tortoise, comes out to play in cooler months.

Shark Reef

Guests who wish to do more than simply admire the creatures who live at Shark Reef have seen that wish come true: three new aquarist experiences here allow them to get their hands wet while nourishing the animals. There’s no greater gentle bliss than feeding a sea turtle its lunch; now, you have a chance to feed the reef’s newest resident, OD, and his mates. Ray feeds and shark feeds are also available.

Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat

Siegfried & Roy may no longer be performing on the Strip, but their legacy lives on at the Secret Garden, as do white tigers and other large cats. Committed to the preservation of these animals, the duo has created habitats natural to each species; get an up-close and personal look as they lounge, eat and play. At the adjacent Dolphin Habitat, observe a family of Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins at rest and play in a 2.5-million-gallon observation facility. Should you wish to interact with the dolphins, you can paint with them, do yoga with them, or be a dolphin trainer for a day.

Silverton Aquarium

A 117,000-gallon artificial reef home to more than 4,000 tropical fish, three species of stingrays and three species of sharks. The front viewing convex window extends 25 feet by 12 feet and is one of the largest single pieces of curved acrylic in the United States. Interactive feeding shows, in which the marine biologist can answer guests questions from inside the tank, takes place twice daily.

 

Jennifer McKee
About the author

Jennifer is the Managing Editor of Morris Visitor Publications, where she has worked since 2005. She is also the edit...