For many people, the city of Las Vegas is all about gambling, themed casinos and hotels, a vibrant nightlife, shopping, fine dining, entertainment, and basically all the fun you can think of. Sadly, little is known about its wildlife.
Yes. In addition to its high-end entertainment, Las Vegas is also a city where many animal species- both from land and sea call home.
While the city does not have any major accredited public zoos like other cities in the US, it does offer a wide range of animal attractions that are spread out all over the beautiful desert city.
You should probably know that the city once had a zoo known as the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park, famously known as the Las Vegas Zoo. It was a 3-acre non-profit zoo that was located northwest of the Las Vegas Strip. The zoo opened in 1981 but was sadly closed after allegations of mistreatment of animals.
So if you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas, don’t miss out on the chance to experience close encounters with your favorite exotic animals and even some endangered species.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at 7 of the best zoos to visit in Las Vegas.
Best Zoos and Aquariums in Las Vegas
- Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
- Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
- Shark Reef Aquarium
- SeaQuest Las Vegas
- Silverton Aquarium
- Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary
- Spring Preserve
1. Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
|Location||Flamingo Hotel: 3555 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109|
|Hours||7 am- 8 pm|
The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Located in the famous Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel’s 15-acre grounds, this beautiful and lush habitat is home to over 300 birds, including the Chilean flamingos, ducks, swans, pheasants, parrots, quail, and even two rescued Pelicans.
In addition to the beautiful exotic birds, the habitat is also home to turtles, the Japanese Koi, and the Albino Channel yellow catfish which live inside the surrounding ponds.
Besides the birds and water animals, the second biggest attraction to this resort is its paradise-like landscape. Away from the hot and dry surroundings is a secluded habitat with an abundance of trees, waterfalls, grasslands, streams, and brooks. This lush landscape is perfect for taking relaxing walks, lay on the beautiful grass, and even take pictures while at it. Don’t forget to fully recharge your batteries because there is plenty to see.
The best part? It’s completely free! Bring your entire family and friends along and take a stroll through one of the city’s most beautiful and popular attractions.
2. Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
|Location||The Mirage: 3400 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109|
|Hours||10 am to 5 pm Daily|
|Admission||$22 for Adults, $17 for kids ages 4-12, Free Entry for children under age 3|
The Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is yet another incredibly popular zoo in Las Vegas.
It’s actually a zoo-like animal sanctuary that hosts the big cats including the rare and endangered white tigers and white lions as well as panthers and leopards.
Inside the Dolphin Habitat, you’ll find the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The Dolphin Habitat offers visitors the opportunity to get up close with the dolphins through a wide range of activities like swimming with the dolphins, yoga with the dolphins, painting with the dolphins, behind-the-scenes tours as well as trainer tours.
You also get to catch fish and frolic from an underwater viewing area.
The zoo is located right inside the Mirage Hotel and Casino. It offers the animals a safe sanctuary while educating visitors on a wide range of topics ranging from wildlife preservation to ocean pollution. There are plenty of interactive activities too.
The zoo also allows visitors to hold birthday parties all year round with 4 years being the minimum age.
The Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is without a doubt one of the best tourist hotspots in Vegas and is family-friendly too. With so much to offer, make sure you don’t miss out on all the fun.
3. Shark Reef Aquarium
|Location||Mandalay Bay: 3950 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119|
|Hours||10 am to 6 pm from Monday to Sunday|
|Admission||Adults-$20, Seniors aged 65 and above-$18, Children aged 5-12-$15, Free entry for children under 4 years|
Opened on June 20, 2000, the Shark Reef Aquarium is a 40-million dollar public aquarium that is owned and managed by the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s one of the largest aquariums in North America.
The 95,000 sq. ft facility has a 1, 300, 000 US gallon main tank that displays more than 2000 marine animals (some endangered and threatened) like sharks, fish, rays, Komodo dragon, piranha, the endangered green sea turtles, and many others.
The aquarium is actually known to be the first closed-system aquarium in North America to exhibit the Great Hammerhead Shark. The shark unexpectedly died in 2004.
The aquarium offers visitors special experiences and encounters with the sea animals such as feeding their amazing stingrays, horseshoe crabs, sharks, and sea turtles with the help of one of the Shark Reef Aquarists.
During these feeding programs, you can even photograph the experience.
The Shark Reef Aquarium also allows you to dive with the sharks with their Dive with Sharks Program. The exhibit is home to more than 30 sharks, which is considered the highest number of exotic sharks you can find in the wild. It’s a 3-4 hour fun and refreshing experience.
As you can see, there is a lot more to see and do in the famous Las Vegas Shark Reef Aquarium. Come prepared to have the most magical experience with a wide range of exotic marine animals.
4. SeaQuest Las Vegas
|Location||Boulevard Mall: 3528 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89169|
|Hours||11 am to 8 pm|
|Admission||$14.95 for adults 12-55 years, $12.95 for ages 55 and military, $9.95 for kids aged 2-11|
SeaQuest Las Vegas prides itself as one of the most popular attractions in this beautiful city. Located in Boulevard Mall, SeaQuest takes you on fun imaginative excursions into the Amazon Rainforest, oceans, and the Mayan Jungle. SeaQuest basically takes you on a journey where through the five continents you can see, touch, and even feed animals. It’s the perfect family getaway for an unforgettable experience.
More than 1200 animals from over 300 species call this 20,000 sq. ft zoo and aquarium home. You will get the opportunity to see and interact with so many animals like sloths, caiman alligators, stingrays, various bird species, tortoises, otters, reef sharks, tropical fish, and so many more.
SeaQuest offers special experiences like Hangout with Flash, Animal Whisperer Tour, and the Ultimate Adventure Bundle. So much fun in one place.
Inside this zoo and aquarium, you can also host birthday parties, private events, and even school trips. The facility is capable of hosting up to 700 guests. It’s just the perfect venue.
Overall, SeaQuest is a must-visit spot in Las Vegas for adults and kids as well. Your kids will really love the educational experiences.
5. Silverton Aquarium
|Location||Silverton Casino Hotel: 3333 Blue Diamond Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89139|
|Hours||Open 24hrs daily|
|Admission||Free of Charge|
Situated within the famous Silverton Hotel, the Silverton Aquarium is without a doubt an impressive sight to see. Entry is completely free and for this reason, the aquarium has been named the “Best Free Attraction in Las Vegas.”
The aquarium tank is massive- holding 117, 000 gallons of water in which thousands of tropical fish call home.
Take a walk to the massive reef aquarium and admire more than 4000 different types of tropical fish as well as three species of stingrays and sharks. Additionally, you’ll be treated to a rare spectacle of “mermaids” who swim alongside the fish and perform fun theatrics like dancing, flipping, twirling, and will even blow bubbles to the kids watching right outside. The mermaid swims are usually scheduled Thursdays from 2.15 pm-8.45 pm, Fridays-Saturdays from 2.15 pm-9.45 pm, and Sundays from 11.30 am to 6.45 pm. Don’t miss out on this rare spectacle!
You also get to watch divers feeding the stingrays by the staff. During feeding time, a guide outside the tank with the rest of the visitors usually answers any burning questions visitors might have about the fish.
The Silverton Aquarium also provides the perfect under-water wedding venue for couples for an unforgettable experience. Scuba-certified brides and grooms get the rare opportunity to exchange their vows inside a tank full of fish and other animals with a mermaid as the bridesmaid and a stingray as the best man. How fun is that?
You’ll certainly love visiting this special attraction site and the fun part is, it’s completely free!
6. Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary
|Location||8103 Racel St, Las Vegas, NV 89131|
|Hours||9 am to 4 pm Daily|
|Admission||$1 for children and $5 for adults|
Opened in 1979, the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary which lies on a 7-acre property offers a safe haven for over 500 exotic birds and domestic animals whose owners can no longer care for. It’s basically an animal refugee center that has grown into one of the best tourist attractions in Las Vegas.
Here, you will get to see and even get up-close with animals like peacocks, crocodiles, parrots, swans, ducks, ostriches, tortoises, turkey, goats, donkeys, llama, chicken, and more. It’s a petting zoo too so make sure to bring the kids along.
Inside the sanctuary is an Amphitheater, an amazing outdoor space where you can hold parties, special events, birthday parties, and even picnics.
The Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary is not just a safe haven for animals. It also offers a wide range of educational programs as well as recreational activities to members of the public.
The sanctuary offers an array of tours, including their Guided Group Tour through the ranch grounds. The Vegas animal sanctuary also allows people of all ages to learn more about specific animal species.
The Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary also actively collaborates with the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts. The sanctuary even features numerous contributions made by the young girls and boys scouts.
There are so many fun activities to engage in so make sure you visit the sanctuary on your next trip to Las Vegas.
7. Spring Preserve
|Location||333 S Valley View Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89107|
|Hours||9 am to 5 pm daily (except Christmas and Thanksgiving)|
|Admission||$18.95 for Adults, $17.05 for students aged 18 and higher, $10.95 for Children between 5-17, and free entry for children from 4 and below|
And last but not least, we have the Spring Preserve, a 180-acre preserve that is owned and managed by the Las Vegas Valley Water District. It is located about 3 miles west of downtown Las Vegas and is built around Las Vegas Springs, the original water source for the city.
Venture outside this massive preserve and observe desert animals native to the Mojave Desert. These animals include tortoises, pocket gophers, gray foxes, Gila monsters, cottontail rabbits, and lizards.
The preserve is also home to various bird species like the Green Herons, Western Screech owls, and Hooded Orioles.
Their Botanical Gardens is also home to countless butterflies in the Butterfly Habitat. Visitors can take nature walks inside the beautiful gardens and watch the beautiful insects.
The preserve also hosts a wide variety of special events for visitors of all ages. They include dog shows, Brews & Blues Festival, Haunted Harvest, Ice Cream Festival, and so many more.
It’s a massive preserve that is also family-friendly so bring along your kids and friends for a fun-filled adventure in the desert.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Zoos in Las Vegas
1. Does Las Vegas have a Zoo?
Las Vegas does not have an accredited zoo, but it does have a variety of smaller animal zoos and preserves. The main zoo, the Southern Nevada Zoological Botanical Park has been closed for years.
2. Where Can You See Animals in Las Vegas?
You can see animals in all the zoos and aquariums we’ve mentioned above.
3. Why Did the Las Vegas Zoo Close?
The Las Vegas zoo was closed due to mistreatment of the animals. Over 150 animals were confined into just 3-acres. The zoo was closed after the last staff quit.
4. Are there Dolphins in Las Vegas?
Yes, there are dolphins in Las Vegas. You can find them in the Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.
5. Does Mirage Still have Tigers?
Yes. The Mirage still hosts the rare and endangered white tigers in the Secret Garden enclosure.
6. Where Can You Swim with Dolphins in Vegas?
You can swim with the dolphins in the Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.
Las Vegas Zoos Review – Wrapping It Up
Las Vegas may not have a large accredited public zoo but it still offers its visitors the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of animals. These animals are mainly confined in resorts or preserves. You even get the chance to feed some of the animals. There are countless activities to engage in as well. These are the perfect hotspots to have fun and learn about different animal species at the same time.