Longtime Vegas visitors roared with displeasure when the MGM Grand closed their signature lion habitat after nearly 20 years of amusing tourists. The big secret, however, was that populating those casino-facing digs was merely the lions’ day job, and their “main office” is now open for tours that are significantly more satisfying. More than two dozen lions, from infant to ancient, are in residence at the facility run by Keith and Bev Evans for more than 20 years. All of the animals are either rescues or born here, and while it always gives one pause to see these kinds of majestic creatures in captivity instead of running wild, the digs are plush and the animals are obviously well taken care of. Visitation programs vary from simple do-it-yourself tours to “Trainer for a Day” options that will put you in direct contact with the lions. Note: Finding the place can be challenging; it’s in the middle of a scrub brush desert, close to the M Resort on the southernmost edge of Las Vegas. Consult a map or GPS before you go.
- Rick Garman