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Las Vegas: Cozy up to turtles, rays and sharks without getting wet

You can get acquainted with sea turtles, rays and sharks at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas

You can get acquainted with various sea creatures without ever traveling to Hawaii or the Caribbean—or even getting wet, for that matter. In fact, it’s happening in desert Las Vegas.

The Animal Encounters program at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium  lets guests feed sea turtles, stingrays and even sharks during three different experiences.

Participants in the “Sea Turtle Feed” get the opportunity to meet OD, a 320-pound creature that has been living in Las Vegas since his relocation last summer from the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys.

After a behind-the-scenes tour, guests make a visit to the Shark Reef kitchen to stock up on vittles. Realizing it’s feeding time, OD and the other sea turtles eagerly float to the top of Shipwreck Exhibit, where lunch is served.

The experience takes place at 12:45 p.m. Sundays-Fridays. Tickets cost $70 a person and participants must be at least 13 years old.

Guests who would rather schmooze with stingrays arrive at 9:15 a.m. daily for a VIP tour before the aquarium’s opening. Upon arriving at the touch pool in which the rays live, visitors distribute a  breakfast of fish, krill and shrimp. The experience costs $50 for adults and $40 for kids ages 5-12.

Participants in the “Shark Feed” needn’t worry about getting in harm’s way. They will use special tongs to feed the zebra sharks while aquarium employees demonstrate the technique used to feed larger sharks.

Some common myths about the frightening marine animals are debunked during the sessions, which take place at 1:15 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Tickets for the shark feeding cost $70 a person, with a minimum age of 13.

Reservations can be booked online or by calling (702) 632-4555.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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