National Zookeeper Week is the third week in July — in 2011, it will fall between July 17 and 23. If you want to celebrate with a trip to the zoo, you’ll have one small difficulty if you’re in Las Vegas that week: there is no zoo in Las Vegas. If you’d like to see some wild animals, however, you’ll find a few places on the Strip with furred, feathered, or finned creatures.
Visitors who are accustomed to large zoos, like the San Diego Zoo, are often surprised at how small the Strip’s animal exhibits are. While you can see some unusual collections — the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay is North America’s only predator-based aquarium, for instance — none of the exhibits on the Strip will take you very long to see. About an hour is all you’ll need to visit.
The Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
Sharks aren’t the only thing you’ll see here. Lizards, crocodiles, piranhas, and a variety of other creatures in salt-water aquariums live here. The hands-on section of the reef, where you can touch rays, is one of the most popular parts of the exhibit. You can also see jelly fish and moray eels, but the main attraction is the large tank at the end full of sharks. Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for children.
Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
Visitors start with a short tour of the Dolphin Habitat, where a viewing area below the water’s surface lets you look into the aquarium. The tour includes videos of live births at the habitat, and the dolphins do a few jumps for spectators. The Secret Garden holds animals from Siegfried and Roy’s collection. Although they no longer perform, the duo still have a large number of cats and other animals. The enclosures look small, but the animals do not spend all their time in this exhibit. Tickets are $17 for adults, $12 for children.
You’ll only need 15 to 30 minutes to see the rest of these attractions:
MGM Grand Lions
The big cats are usually doing what cats like to do best — sleeping. A clear enclosure gives visitors a view all around the two-level exhibit. A walkway through the exhibit is likewise surrounded with clear material, and the lions are often laying on the top of the walkway. If you think your kitty is hard on the furniture, take a look at the size of these cats’ paws. The exhibit is free.
Flamingo Hilton Wildlife Habitat
Naturally, you’ll find flamingos here, along with swans and ducks. Koi and turtles live in the ponds. This exhibit is free.