Mirage Secret Garden

Caesar's Palace has its shopping, New York New York has its giant roller coaster and The Venetian has its gondola rides. For years, the Mirage has made its name through its white tigers. And though the Mirage Secret Garden is far more famous as the home of Siegfried and Roy's creatures, they are not the only wildlife that spend their days in Vegas. Attractions like the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo, Las Vegas and the Shark Reef Aqaurium at the Mandalay Bay are helping to look more and more like a wildlife sanctuary. The Secret Garden at the Mirage Hotel and Casino is the best of any of the man-made animal environments in the city (which is also why you have to pay to enter) - and the Dolphin Habitat is one of the largest aquariums in the world. Two and a half million gallons of seawater are the home for a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the Mirage Secret Garden, where thousands of tourists can stop by and watch them frolic above and below water for hours a day. The tropical atmosphere and exotic setting make any trip to the Mirage Hotel and Casino one of the most memorable things to do in Vegas.

Mirage Garden Dolphin Habitat
Mirage Garden Dolphin Habitat

Though many visitors pay the entrance fee to see the famed white tigers, (not to mention a few white lions, snow leopards, a panther and some Bengal tigers) the Mirage dolphins hold their own as far as being a tourist draw is concerned. You can see them splash around for hours at the Mirage Secret Garden - whether they are doing tricks in hopes of acquiring a fishy treat from a handler or simply jetting back and forth beneath the water's surface, the graceful creatures are a joy to watch. The Mirage Hotel and Casino has spared no expense at keeping the amiable dolphins comfortable and happy while still allowing visitors to get a glimpse of how these mammals behave while in the wild.

For some, though, seeing the Mirage dolphins up close is not quite good enough. Luckily, the Mirage Secret Garden has instituted a new program where a few fortunate people can play dolphin trainer for the day. Sure, it comes at a high price, but there are few places where such an option is even available, especially in places like Nevada. So put on your wetsuit and prepare to smell of fish if you want to spend the day with the clowns of the ocean.

Of course, the Mirage dolphins are not all about fun. The habitat has made a concerted effort to educate visitors about conservation and the role dolphins play in the ecosystem. Four giant pools, a coral reef and imported sand on the pool floor do their best to replicate the dolphin's natural habitat, even though none of the dolphins have actually seen the wild - every one of them here were born in captivity.

Top image: ahisgett (flickr)

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