If you're visiting Nevada with children, you won't want to leave without visiting one of the Silver State's many enthralling animal parks and aquariums.
Safe Heaven Wildlife Sanctuary
Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary is a non-profit wild animal sanctuary located on 160 acres in Imlay, Nevada. The sanctuary is currently home to bobcats, cougars, African lions, tigers, African servals, foxes and more. Many of the animals have arrived from illegal breeding sites or abusive conditions. Medical care is provided for all animals for a better life.
Among its many rehab/releases, the zoo has successfully raised and released orphaned bear cubs into the high Sierra. Daily tours of the facilities are offered by appointment. Visitors may view and enjoy animals from the safety of the perimeter fencing. Educational tours and programs, outreach programs are also available. Guests often say that their visit to Safe Haven was one of the highlights of their Nevada vacation.
With over 50 animals to meet and greet, there is something at Camel Safari for everyone to enjoy. Headquartered in the quiet unsuspecting community of Mesquite at Camel Safari brace for a truly unforgettable experience unlike any other in Nevada.
When visiting the property, visitors can choose from a variety of programs designed to suit every interest. The property is available for bachelor parties, weddings and other events, and offers a variety of ways to personally engage with the animals, under the professional guidance of staff.
Visitors can trek through the Nevada desert on an unforgettable safari atop one of the majestic rescue camels. On this tour, count on overlooking the beautiful Virgin Mountains and Virgin River, led by an experienced Camel Safari handler.
The Aquarium at the Silverton Casino
The 117,000 gallon saltwater aquarium is home to more than 4,000 tropical fish, stingrays, eels and sharks and interactive fish feeding shows.
It’s a water attraction in the desert and named the “Best Free Attraction in Las Vegas”. Other attractions at the aquarium include live Mermaids swimming, where kids and parents might see one or two mermaids interacting with our guests. It is a favorite for all ages, and just part of what makes Silverton Casino the best of the family hotels in Las Vegas.
Guests won’t want to miss the fresh water aquariums located on-site at the Bass Pro Shops. An 18,000 gallon water feature simulating Red Rock Canyon’s beautiful rock formations is filled with spectacular live Koi. Three additional aquariums at Bass Pro Shop feature trout, channel catfish, carp and bass and include a flowing canyon river featuring ducks, turtles, bluegills and sturgeon.
The signature reef aquarium will transport you to a tropical oasis where you can admire thousands of tropical fish, and three species each of stingrays and sharks. The staff marine biologist is equipped with a full-face communication mask and answers guests’ questions during the feeding show. In addition, the Mermaid Lounge features two 500-gallon jellyfish aquariums lit with LED lights.
Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops has 165,000 sq ft. of outdoor fun for the entire family. Attractions include a 40,000 gallon freshwater aquarium, rock wall, archery range, and shooting range. The Silverton Casino which is attached to Bass Pro has an 114,000 gallon saltwater aquarium and a custom Orange County Chopper specially made for Bass Pro Shops, which is located 3.5 miles south of Mandalay Bay.
Besides this a 40,000 gallon freshwater aquarium fed by a canyon waterfall, features fish native to the area. These are the fish that fishermen dream of catching or you may have heard about in some of their fishing tales. Large dioramas of various wildlife mounts are depicted in true-to-nature scenes with many of the exhibits coming from museums and private donations.
Other unique features include an indoor archery range, and a live duck habitat. Animal prints like mule deer, bighorn sheep, beaver, and ring-necked pheasant are imprinted in the concrete floor. A trout stream meanders through the store populated by brook, brown and the colorful rainbow trout--Nevada's most abundant game and fish species. There is something for everyone here at Bass Pro Shops.
Sierra Safari Zoo
Jimmie Martin, Dale McDaniel, and Dave Dawson once had a collection of exotic animals, most notably ostriches, on their land behind Bonanza Casino in north Reno. However, when the amount of animals they collected became a zoo, quite literally, they wanted a place for people in Reno to observe their animals.
Hence, they opened the Sierra Safari Zoo in 1990, and it has been fostering compassion for and knowledge about animals ever since.
While it isn’t a rescue facility, the zoo provides homes for animals that otherwise wouldn’t have one. Whether it is a reptile outgrowing its family, a primate from a research facility, or a wildcat leaving its previous owner, the Sierra Safari Zoo is willing to give the animals a home.
Today, there are more than 200 animals at the zoo that comprise more than 40 species. Visitors might see a primate climbing atop trees in its private habitat, or a liger (the hybrid of a lion father and tiger mother) prowling with a lion’s pride.
While some animals are in open environments, other more dangerous animals are kept in enclosures with roofs. Temperature is always taken into account, and tropical animals, especially, are kept in climate-controlled enclosures.
Located in Stagecoach, the acronym S.A.B.R.E. stands for Siberian (Tigers) Are Becoming Rapidly Extinct, and its goal is to preserve endangered animals and educate the public as they observe the six tigers on the premises. Peter Renzo who established the organization, believes that it is only through education and awareness that the tiger population can rebound.
The difference with this foundation is that observers are able to watch Renzo feed and interact with the animals. They watch as he rubs heads with the tigers, as if he is one of them. He gives the tigers kisses and hugs and seems to intermingle with the population.
S.A.B.R.E. Foundation goes through more than 24,000 pounds of meat per year. Renzo uses feeding time as an educational tool to show visitors how the tiger would act in its natural habitat—with caution.
Roos 'N' More
Roos-N-More is home to nearly 300 animals, including lemurs, monkeys, a sloth, birds, reptiles, camels, a zebra, a caracal, a serval, tamarins and marmosets, wallabies, and kangaroos. This zoo is unique in that it is one of only three Zoological Association of America-accredited facilities in Nevada. The animals at Roos-N-More are given enrichment items in their enclosures, so animals are entertained and engaged in their surroundings. The zoo is operated on donations, admission prices from zoo days, and private tours—plus occasional grants from generous businesses.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
In an area smaller than Disney World exist at least 26 species of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth—the greatest concentration of endemic life in the United States. The amazing colors of the desert spring pools are reason enough to visit. Just 90 minutes northwest of Las Vegas, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is one of Nevada’s best-kept secrets.
As you leave the glitz and glamour of the Strip, the landscape becomes a dry, vast, and sparsely populated desert. This is not where you expect to find unique flowers or four native fish species. The beauty and serenity found in this oasis—the largest in the Mojave Desert—is an unexpected surprise to all who visit.
Sit a while and listen to the melodic calls of more than 275 species of birds, linger over crystal-clear waters filled with iridescent blue fish, or scan the rocky mountaintops for desert bighorn sheep. If you are more the scientific type, there is much to ponder here.
Devils Hole, which looks like a simple water-filled chasm, is only 66 feet long by 15 feet wide—yet it’s home to the rarest fish in the world. Devils Hole pupfish, less than one inch in length, survive in this 93-degree water-filled cavern, which has been mapped to a depth of 500 feet; the bottom has yet to be found.
The area is also frequented by a variety of migratory birds, so visitors might see pelicans, swans, or rare European migrants such as ruff. There are 40 species of mammals, more than 20 species of reptiles, four amphibian species, and more than 300 species of flowers and shrubs.
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