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Secret Garden With White Lions and Tigers at Las Vegas's Mirage Hotel

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

White Striped Tiger on display at the Mirage.  Who is watching whom?

White Striped Tiger on display at the Mirage. Who is watching whom?

Las Vegas, Nevada

There is so much entertainment and so many venues in Las Vegas, Nevada that it would require innumerable visits to take in all the sites. It was my distinct pleasure to enjoy the Siegfried and Roy Show when it was still in operation at the Mirage Hotel. I especially enjoyed seeing their Secret Garden with the endangered animals, including the white tigers and white lions of Timbavati, among other rare species kept in that wonderful setting.

For those who might not have been to Las Vegas, or for those who have visited but spent their time taking in other forms of entertainment, I have included the pictures I took on my last visit there.

Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Hotel

Behind the Mirage Hotel and Casino is a large pool in which bottlenose dolphins live. They also perform at regularly scheduled shows for the public.

The Secret Garden is also in the back area of the Mirage Hotel. The friend who was accompanying me on our vacation from Houston to California and back one year decided that it would be a nice break after looking at the array of spectacularly and inventively built hotels in Las Vegas to take a break and look at something a bit more natural.

Working our way back to the Secret Garden we first took in the Dolphin Show. Those types of shows are always crowd-pleasers, and this particular show did not disappoint. My only thought is that these magnificent mammals would undoubtedly be much happier in the oceans instead of a pool of water.

They are such sweet looking creatures and seem to have a permanent smile on their faces. The dolphins did the usual flips and jumps in the air in unison following gestures from their trainers.

The Secret Garden at the Mirage Hotel

The Secret Garden of Siegfried and Roy is another thing entirely. It has been created as a sanctuary for some amazing animals which have become endangered in the wild.

This space serves to not only house them in areas providing freedom of movement as well as areas in which to climb, play and interact with one another but also to provide information about them and to raise people's awareness about this precious species.

The Striped White Tigers were once thought to be extinct but in 1951 a cub was discovered by the Maharaja of Rewa.

Siegfried and Roy not only chose to help save these rare tigers from extinction but due to their efforts in breeding them, at the time of our visit, there were about 40 white tigers that were residing at the sanctuaries in Las Vegas designed and built by this team of preservationists.

It is absolutely thrilling to be able to view them as close as we were able to do.

In a hallway in the Mirage Hotel and Casino, there were a few of the White Tigers on display as a couple of the photos that I took portray. These few were behind glass and seemed as interested in viewing the array of people passing by as we were in looking at them.

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The vast majority of the animals are in the Secret Garden at the back of the hotel.

Siegfried and Roy Show

As most people probably know, Siegfried and Roy offered a wonderful and long-lasting show at the Mirage in which the animals that they lived with on a daily basis also performed with them. One horrible accident stopped their performances forever.

I count myself among those fortunate people who were able to see them and their magnificent creatures perform on stage, and it is a memory that I will carry with me always.

White Tigers

The Snow White Tigers have faint or no stripes and originally came from the foothills of the Himalayas.

White Lions of Timbavati

Siegfried and Roy also had a great interest in conservation regarding the White Lions of Timbavati. Those beautiful white lions were almost at the point of becoming extinct.

Timbavati is the name of a game preserve next to Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Very few white lions live in the wild because their color makes them easier targets for prey. It is also a recessive gene that creates these magnificent animals so they would be rare in any case even if they were not more easily hunted by other animals or man.

Most of the white lions in existence today live in zoos.

Siegfried and Roy initiated a successful breeding program and the very first white lion cub born in Las Vegas was actually named as the mascot for the United States Senate.

Here is a bit of trivia for those who like information like this to casually mention at one's bus stop or next dinner party. The name given to that white lion mascot for the Senate was Prosperity. Nice moniker don't you think?

Heterozygous White Lions

Heterozygous White Lions look like normal lions, more tawny in coloration and not pure white. An important difference however in their genetic makeup is that they carry the white gene. Therefore they are able to keep the genetic code for white lions alive.

These white lions rest in the Secret Garden for as many as 16 to 20 hours a day. It is normal for them to do a lot of sleeping. They have a safe and secure environment and the company of their own kind in which to take their naps. It was a special treat to be able to see these grand animals in repose in such a beautiful setting.

Heterozygous White Lions at Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas

Heterozygous White Lions at Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas

Heterozygous Tiger

The picture below is a heterozygous tiger. Just like the heterozygous lions these tigers look like normal tigers in coloration. The main difference is that they also carry the all-important genetic code to be able to produce white tigers.

A normal healthy male tiger can get to be as much as nine feet long and weigh up to a whopping 450 pounds. Female tigers are normally smaller in size and weight.

Heterozygous Tiger at Mirage Hotel

Heterozygous Tiger at Mirage Hotel

Other Animals in the Secret Garden

There were many other rather rare species also kept in Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden at the Mirage Hotel.

One of them was the beautiful black panther. I did not capture a good picture on film but did of the snow leopard that was taking a nap at the time. What gorgeous animals!

An Asian Elephant named Gildah also resides in the Secret Garden. There are probably only about 50,000 Asian elephants in the world today.

Elephants are vegetarians, and since they weigh several tons when fully grown, it takes a lot of grains, fresh fruit, hay, and many gallons of water to keep them fed and hydrated each day.

A turkey seemed to be Gildah's companion. At least the turkey was in the same enclosure with the elephant the day of our visit.

Our Experiences at the Mirage Hotel

My mother and I once stayed at the Mirage Hotel for several nights and enjoyed the comfort and ambiance.

I tried my hand at a few slot machines but very quickly discovered just how quickly those quarters disappear. I'm not a gambler by nature, so aside from losing a few dollars, we simply enjoyed the Las Vegas sites and spent our money on other forms of entertainment instead of gambling.

When my girlfriend and I spent one night in Las Vegas on our return trip from California back to Texas we did no gambling but also took in some of the shows and other sites. There is much to see in Las Vegas!

Mirage Hotel (Shows White Lions, Dolphins and More)

Mirage Volcano

In front of the Mirage Hotel and Casino is an area of water with a waterfall. In the evening a rather spectacular man-made volcanic eruption takes place. This can be viewed by everyone on the Las Vegas strip standing on the street in front of the hotel.

The inside theme of the Mirage continues with water and tropical foliage everywhere.

It is amazing the creativity of the artists, architects and builders of that fantasyland called Las Vegas!

Las Vegas, Nevada


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is it true that you can swim with the dolphins at Las Vegas's Mirage Hotel?

Answer: The closest you will get to be in the water with dolphins at the Mirage Hotel is if you purchase tickets to "trainer for a day." As of today, November 11, 2018, that ticket starts at $495.00. Their website has the following information: "Get up close and personal with our dolphins as you work with dolphin specialists to go from tourist to trainer in a few hours. You'll participate in hands-on activities including playing with, training, getting in the water with, and caring for our family of dolphins."

© 2009 Peggy Woods

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