Get up-close and personal with Vegas' amazing animals

Next time you want to "go wild" in Las Vegas, don't risk your life savings on black. Instead, head to one of the city's animal attractions for an unforgettable experience with sharks, dolphins and other creatures.

While visitors may know that Las Vegas is home to many majestic animals, they don't realize how much they can interact with them. At the Tank, the Golden Nugget's pool, visitors can ride a three-story waterslide through a 200,000-gallon shark tank and go behind the scenes to learn more about the Tank's fearsome inhabitants. In addition to learning about what the sharks eat and how the exhibit operates, guests will receive a souvenir shark tooth.

For a more hands-on experience, Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay offers a shark feed program. Guests peer from above the aquarium's 1.3 million gallon shipwreck exhibit and watch the sharks eat. They will also have the opportunity to feed the exhibit's two zebra sharks (contingent on the sharks' behavior) from a safe distance. Sea turtle and stingray feeds are available as well.

For those who find sharks a bit too intimidating, Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage offers several programs where guests can interact with dolphins. Its Trainer for a Day program is particularly popular, as guests get to shadow the dolphin trainers and get into the water to play with the animals. Guests are also treated to a tour of the underwater birthing and research observation rooms, where they can listen to the dolphins communicate. Participants can also pose for a photo with a dolphin. For those who also want to see the attraction's land-dwelling residents (which include lions, tigers and leopards), the VIP tour is a must.

The city's best-kept "secret" animal attraction is the Lion Habitat Ranch. A retirement home for the lions from the MGM Grand, the attraction features nearly 50 big cats -- many of them relatives of the MGM lions. Private tours are available where guests can see the king of the jungle being bathed and fed.

The Tank
Golden Nugget 129 E. Fremont St.

Shark Reef Aquarium
Mandalay Bay 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
The Mirage 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South

The Lion Habitat Ranch
382 Bruner Ave.

-Heather Turk, Brand Publishing Writer

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