Every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip has it’s secrets and in my opinion, The Mirage Hotel’s is the best of them all! Deep in the hotel you can find Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat! A beautiful little oasis focused on scientific research, conservation and education.
The Secret Garden includes a whole range of big cats including white tigers, white lions, golden tigers, leopards, black panthers and regular lions. While we were in Vegas the Secret Garden also had a new family of baby white lions! They were so beautiful and playful, jumping around with each other and their trainer, who they seemed to absolutely love! As with all animal sanctuaries, different animals are display at different times of the day to give them a rest, so we didn’t get to see them all. Good to keep in mind too that they’re all big cats – which means they also sleep for most of the day!
Here are some interesting facts we learned whilst enjoying the Secret Garden –
- While lions are not albinos as they have pigmentation which shows particularly in the eyes, paw pads and lip colour. The correct term for their condition is leucism, which is a lack of dark pigmentation.
- White lions are listed as critically endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species.
- Both white lions and white tigers are unusual in nature and their chances of survival in the wild are low due to lack of camouflage.
- White tigers are not a subspecies, they are a genetic variation.
- Almost all white tigers in zoological facilities are descended from one Bengal tiger named Mohan who was found in India in the 1950s.
- The black panther is not a different subspecies. The black panther is a leopard with a Melanistic coat. A black leopard has spots, but you can’t always see them among the dark fur.
- Leopards can be found in both Africa and Asia and are very adaptable. They can be found in a diverse range of habitats from semi-desert to the rainforest.
We had such a lovely time at the Secret Garden. It was a beautiful patch of nature in a town committed to flashing neon lights, bottomless cocktails and poker tables. The dolphins at the sanctuary were so playful and active. I am pretty sure one of the dolphins was trying to play with us as we watched from the side – he kept swimming past us quickly and flicking his tail up to splash us! For more information on all the animals at Siegfried & Roy’s and their conservation and education commitments check out their website here.