I loved it! According to one of the handlers, there are 49 lions on site and one white tiger. (Wouldn't you think the tiger would be kind of lonely?) The ranch is very low key and you can get really close to the animals.
I'm not an animal person; if James Lipton of The Actor's Studio ever asked what my least favorite job would be, I'd say it's a tie between zookeeper and pedicurist. But I am fascinated by animals. As long as they don't touch me.
The staff was very nice and happy to answer all our questions. Of course, I was a absolutely mortified when, as one of the attendants was showing us the little baby cubs, Mike said, "My wife wanted me to ask you if they make warm slippers." OMG! And until the lady realized he was kidding, you should have seen the look she shot me.
That reminded me of the time when B.H. and I were hiking outside Boulder, Colorado. We passed a hippie family on the trail proudly walking their pet llama and then B.H. says within their earshot, "I bet the meat is delicious." Another moment when I wanted to melt into the ground.
Anyway, according to their brochure, the Lion Habitat Ranch supplied the lions for the MGM Grand for 15 years, until they had to leave the hotel in February of 2012 to make room for another nightclub or whatever (dumb move, MGM). In December 2012 the habitat opened to the public.
The hours are limited; they're open only Friday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It cost $40 for the four of us ($20 for each adult, kids were free), which is not bad, but not necessarily affordable for everyone. There were only a handful of us roaming around the place last Sunday and it doesn't seem to be thriving, which is a shame because it really is cool. If I were queen, this is what I would do:
- Offer a season's pass for $30. This would encourage people to keep coming back and would keep the place in the forefront of their minds. We would definitely stop in there every so often to see how the lions are doing, but not at $40 a pop.
- Spruce up the grounds a bit. Add benches and places to sit and relax. Make it a park-like atmosphere where people could come and hang.
- Add a cool gift shop and a food concession. A Starbuck's at the entrance would be fine with me and would increase awareness. Hey, if people can spend four bucks for a coffee, they'd probably be willing to spring for a season's pass to check out the animals.
- Set the place up as a non-profit. Recruit volunteers, create fundraising events.
So check this place out. It really looks like it could use some community support. Look how cute this one is:
Awwww... are you surprised that I'm so into these lions? You shouldn't be--remember my creation in my backyard?
And I said would hate to be a pedicurist..