Frequent Las Vegas Tourists will remember the lion habitat at the MGM Grand. Where in the morning lion cubs lounged around a glass enclosed sanctuary and occasional played around with their caretakers. In the afternoon, they were replaced with the older adult “MGM” lions. All of that closed in 2012 when MGM needed to make room for some trendy bars and nightclubs.
So What Happened to the Lions?
Popular question. These beautiful creatures were retired to the ranch where they always lived when not on display. Their ranch is now called The Lion Habitat Ranch and its open for visitors. At the ranch, you can get up close to the furry creatures, not too close, but close enough to hear them roar when they feel like it! At the ranch, you are separated by a tall chain link enclosure rather than a glass enclosure and you can talk to the caretakers who are all very knowledgeable as well as very friendly.
Please check the website for open dates. They may vary with the summer heat and weather.
While we were there, we got to see “Ozzie” the painting giraffe (the only giraffe in Nevada) and a few rescued birds that talked or whispered things to us if we asked them to. Check the website for times when Ozzie is painting or for the lions feeding times because that’s when they will be most active. Lions are not known to be frisky creatures except when it comes to food!
The Lion Habitat Ranch is a 501-c3 non-profit organization, so you can feel good knowing that your $25 entrance fee goes to the maintenance, care, and feeding of these beloved animals. Locals, don’t worry, they offer plenty of discounts for locals, military, children and seniors. Everyone is required to sign a waiver before entering stating that you know these are large animals that can eat you when given the chance! So they want to make sure you know you need to be careful and will be responsible for your own behavior. Basically, you promise you will not try not to get eaten by the lions!
Keith Evans and his wife started the organization after being booted from the MGM. They have a long and interesting history with the animals and working with shows on Vegas Strip as being animal-friendly and protective of their lions. That’s why the lions let them into their pride so easily. They see each other as family and it shows when you see Keith and his staff around the ranch taking care of the animals.
On the day we were there, three of the cats were just bathed (they do that often!) and were in the drying area where Keith would be frequently checking up on them and watering them as needed or as the cats let him know they wanted his attention.
This is another one of those wonderful “Hidden gems” of Las Vegas. A place that is not on the usual “tourist radar” and perfect for the family that wants to get off the Strip to see something different. It’s also wonderful to see that the lions are being so well cared for. Visiting the Lion Habitat Ranch, you get to really see what these majestic creatures are like up close.
Where is The Lion Habitat Ranch?
The address is 382 Bruner Ave. Henderson. On the corner of Bruner Ave and Bermuda Rd.
Just head south on Las Vegas Boulevard, turn left at the M Resort and then 2 blocks and a right on Bruner. The corner of Bruner and Bermuda, you will see the entrance to the ranch.
About the Video:
In podcast 215, we talked with the founder of the ranch Keith Evans. Here is the video from that interview where he talks about how he got into the business of lions and cats. His background on the Las Vegas Strip as well as the problems dealing with the ever changing management of the MGM and why he was booted from the MGM Grand.