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The Lion Habitat Ranch: A Sense of Pride
Lion Habitat Ranch
Have you ever held a baby lion?
Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson, Nevada
Do animals have emotions? Are they capable of love? An old question, really that is often argued by some. I believe the answer is yes to both and, as I witnessed at the Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson, NV, it appears lions are no exception. It was obvious to see the mutual respect between the owner and his lions. Quite amazing.
As you may have seen on the Discovery Channel or read in National Geographic, lions are the only big cats that live amongst each other and travel in groups, called prides. Out of all the jungle cats, they are the second largest and considered to be the more sociable, while others are content exercising their independence. They are certainly beautiful to say the very least.
Typically you'd find lions roaming parts of Africa and Asia, so imagine my pleasant surprise when I found out that there were some living in Vegas and that we were practically neighbors, literally a ten minute ride. Don't worry, they are not wandering the streets here!
It was an ordinary day when I was returning home from running errands and took notice in a sign I had never previously seen in my seven years of living in Las Vegas. It simply said, "Lion Habitat Ranch" with an arrow pointing the way. This was something I would've remembered because it was around the corner from my house and well, I have a deep respect and fascination with these amazing cats.
Now, I know what you're thinking and I'll put your mind at ease. I've no plans to try and adopt a big cat. Although they are breathtaking and majestic in every sense of the word, I'll leave that to the professionals. I can safely say that Mr. Evans,the owner ranch, is a professional as he has been working with lions since 1970. As for myself, I don't have any previous experience with these beautiful creatures (nor do I think my dogs would approve). I'm more than happy just admiring the wonderful habitat that Keith and Bev have created.
Since I've seen the sign, I became intrigued and knew I had to see what it was all about. My mother was coming to town that week, so I quickly added it to our itinerary of "must sees." Needless to say, she was as impressed as I was.
Since then, I've been there twice. I suppose that must mean that I enjoy it there, visiting it twice in two weeks!
Lion Habitat Ranch
- Lion Habitat Ranch.com
When many people think of a habitat, they often mistake it for a zoo. This magical place differs greatly from a zoo. It's rare that you go to any type of recreational facility and find such friendly employees with a genuine smile on their faces that say "I love this job." Each employee spoke with enthusiasm as they shared information about the environment there and were also more than helpful in explaining the mannersims of these big cats.
While working with large animals such as these, I'm sure some days must be a challenge, but experience speaks volumes and for those who love these lions, all I can say is what a wonderful experience it must be!
It is apparent by the way that they handle the lion cubs, with such tenderness and calming conversation, that they truly love their animals and provide the best possible care. In addition, from videos posted on Facebook of Keith and Bev hand-feeding the adult lions and their cubs, it is evident how much patience they have with these animals, never once raising their voice or their hands to any of them.
The lions themselves appear completely relaxed and trusting, gently taking the food from their hands and following it up with a lick of the palm once the food is gone. While there is no denying that these are giant jungle cats, and that not just anyone could walk in there and feed them, you wouldn't know it by the way they respond to their human Mom and Dad. I would bet it's safe to say that Keith and Bev have long been accepted into their pride.
View Video of Lion Habitat Ranch Las Vegas Here!
How Many Lions Live on the Premises?
There are over 35 big cats there including one tiger. Each has ample room to walk around and there is an air conditioned den box in each enclosure.
So, What's It Like?
When I first heard of the ranch, I wasn't sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when I pulled into the parking lot. The owners actually live on premises in their own house, while the lions have their own separate area. The enclosures, (and I use the term enclosures lightly as they are large areas) are clean and spacious. There are two gates surrounding the lions, but you can see them and take pictures just fine. Sometimes they'll even give you a big toothy smile (but you have to ask them nicely).
Employee Bottle Feeding a Lion
These Las Vegas lions do not have to hunt for their food as each waits its turn to get hand/bottle fed.
Each time I visited, it was in the morning and the lions came right up to the gate so that the handlers could bottle feed them. Their looks are deceiving as they take their bottle so gently, you'd swear they were harmless kittens!
Around the side is where you can take pictures of the cubs and for a fee you can get your picture taken with one of the them.
To bring my visit to an end, I simply had to take advantage of the opportunity and get my picture taken with Benny...and he is simply adorable. At the same time, I was fortunate to meet and talk with Keith Evans and his lovely wife Bev who took the picture and made sure Benny didn't play too rough.
If you want to interact with the cubs, you can do so for an additional fee.
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Why is the Lion Habitat Ranch there?
If you've visited the MGM on the Las Vegas strip, you might've noticed the MGM lion habitat exhibit inside. These are the lions that "worked" there. What you might not have known was that the lions only worked in shifts at the MGM habitat, always sleeping every night at their own ranch. Since the lions no longer work at the MGM, Mr. Evans was able to open up his lion habitat to the public.
Taken straight from their brochure, they say, "Our goal is to still provide a learning experience for our guests and our community, creating a greater respect for lions while increasing awareness about natural habitat preservation needs." They continue on to say, "We want you to fall in love with our lions, people only save what they love."
If you plan on visiting Las Vegas in the near future, you can take a look at their website at www.lionhabitatranch.com or take a stroll to their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Lion-Habitat-Ranch/271167609612510. Check out the specials they have, including lunch with the lions, private parties and trainer for a day.
I have a feeling I'll be visiting every once in a while just to admire. They are certainly majestic animals and the word regal is most fitting.
Thanks for reading!
"Bringing awareness about dog adoption and rescue, one dog at a time!"
Author of Finally Home, Final Journey, Paw Prints in the Sand, Paw Prints in the Sand: Mission Accomplished, My Dog Does That!, Bark Out Loud, Unwanted Dreams, Phobia, Evil's Door and Faces of Deception. All books are available in Kindle and paperback format on Amazon.com.
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Location: The Lion Habitat Ranch 382 Bruner Ave Henderson, NV
© 2013 Elizabeth Parker