Las Vegas is associated with many things. Gambling, partying, drinking and dancing can be done here unlike any place in the world. However, if you look deeper, there are many other things you can do here that are just as fun, but not quite what you may have been expecting.
This past weekend I had just such an opportunity as I was invited to check out the Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson. What an amazing place this is! I never knew there was such a large group of lions (and other animals) living so close to me.
As we walked into the compound, we were greeted by not lions, but a couple of relaxing Ostriches. They were pretty calm, and one of them even walked up to us to say hello. We hung out for a few moments talking about the speed of this incredible animal, despite its awkward appearance.
Moving on, we started down the path which took us through all of the enclosures. A few varieties of birds, such as macaws could be seen in cages, but it was the majestic lions which of course really caught our eye.
Most enclosures had either one or two lions who were mostly hanging out near the fence, allowing us to get a great view of these impressive animals. A few opted to hang out in their enclosures, which we were told were air conditioned to give them a break from the heat.
As we continued on, we were greeted by Ozzie, a young giraffe who now calls the ranch home. Even though he is young and still growing, it was amazing at just how tall he was when we got up close. The best part was we were allowed to feed him! One at a time our group was allowed to go up close to him and feed him some lettuce leaves. He would gently grab the leaf with his massive tongue right from my hand! He seemed really sweet and we enjoyed spending quite a bit of time watching him and learning about him from his handler who was super polite and knowledgeable.
We moved on because it was lion feeding time! Once a day the younger lions are fed in view of the public. The staff gets inside the enclosure with the younger lions and feeds them raw meat. It was so incredible seeing these majestic creatures gently taking food from their handlers.
As they fed the lions, the handlers would talk with the visitors, answering questions from everyone. What was really cool was seeing Frank. Frank is a young lion who apparently thought the crowd was there to steal his food. So he got quite vocal, roaring and making other noises as a warning that we better not try to get his food. Standing so close to him, it was amazing how deep and powerful his roar was.
Although we didn’t opt to do it, visitors can also feed the lions (for a fee). That has to be a really cool experience. If I get up the courage, maybe I will try that next time.
It was getting close to 1 p.m., and that is time for Ozzie to paint. That’s right, Ozzie the giraffe also paints! We headed back to his enclosure for the show. We were told that Ozzie is an “abstract” artist, which he certainly was. One staff member held up a blank canvas, while his handler gave him a paint brush. Ozzie would grab it with his tongue and make a stroke or two on the canvas. Changing colors several times, ultimately you end up with a painting thatlooks pretty good! I certainly have seen worse paintings from professionals. Way to go Ozzie!
After the show, we headed over to a building for refreshments. It was pretty hot, and nothing beats the heat like an ice cold snow cone. They also had other snacks, and a place to see other works done by Ozzie, which you could buy if you like.
Finally, it was time to go home. What an amazing experience this was. Seeing these ferocious creatures up close was an experience I won’t soon forget. Whether you go alone, on a date, or as a family outing, this is just an incredible experience! So if you can’t make it to Africa to see a lion, just head over to Henderson!
We would like to thank the great people of the Lion Habitat Ranch for the invitation. It was an awesome time and I can’t wait to go back again soon. You could tell that everyone there loved their jobs, and the health and well being of the animals was extremely important to them. Hopefully, the public continues to support the ranch, and allows them to continue their great work for years to come.
This place is open Friday to Monday and children are free. If you would like to learn more about the Lion Habitat Ranch and plan your own trip, be sure to visit their website HERE.by