- Type: Attractions
NileGuide Expert tip:
Be on the lookout for baby dolphins and other animals. Several have been born here.
Siegfried & Roy's famous white tigers went from famous to infamous when one of them either did what tigers all do eventually and attacked his beloved owner/trainer, or -- depending on whether you buy the following story -- helped said beloved owner/trainer when the latter was having a medical emergency. Either way this saga is played, it explains why the Secret Garden attraction is still up; no matter what, the tiger is not to blame. We hope this attraction, a gorgeous area behind the dolphin exhibit, stays put for a long time. Here, white lions, Bengal tigers, an Asian elephant, a panther, and a snow leopard join the white tigers. (The culprit, Montecore, may sometimes be on exhibit.) It's really just a glorified zoo featuring only the big-ticket animals; however, it is a very pretty place, with plenty of foliage and some bits of Indian- and Asian-themed architecture. Zoo purists will be horrified at the smallish spaces the animals occupy, but all the animals are rotated between here and their more lavish digs at the illusionist team's home. What this does allow you to do is get safely very close up to a tiger, which is quite a thrill -- those paws are massive indeed. Visitors are given little portable phonelike objects on which they can play a series of programs, listening to Roy and former Mirage owner Steve Wynn discuss conservation or the attributes of each animal, and deliver anecdotes.
The Dolphin Habitat is more satisfying than the Secret Garden. It was designed to provide a healthy and nurturing environment and to educate the public about marine mammals and their role in the ecosystem. Specialists worldwide were consulted in creating the habitat, which was designed to serve as a model of a quality, human-made environment. The pool is more than eight times larger than government regulations require, and its 2.5 million gallons of human-made seawater are cycled and cleaned once every 2 hours. It must be working because the adult dolphins here are breeding regularly. The Mirage displays only dolphins already in captivity -- no dolphins are taken from the wild. You can watch the dolphins frolic both above and below ground through viewing windows, in three different pools. There is nothing quite like the kick you get from seeing a baby dolphin play. The knowledgeable staff, who surely have the best jobs in Vegas, will answer questions. If they aren't doing it already, ask them to play ball with the dolphins; they toss large beach balls into the pools, and the dolphins hit them out with their noses, leaping out of the water, cackling with dolphin glee. You catch the ball, getting nicely wet, and toss it back to them. If you have never played ball with a dolphin, shove that happy child next to you out of the way and go for it. There is also a video of a resident dolphin (Duchess) giving birth (to Squirt) underwater; her fourth calf (30 lb. and 3 ft. long) was born just before Mother's Day in 2003. You can stay as long as you like, which might just be hours.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Very Highly Recommended 2009
- Very Highly Recommended 2010