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Lion Habitat Ranch: The Dawn Of A Las Vegas Zoo?

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Lion at MGM Lion Habitat

A lion habitat in the southeast section of the Las Vegas Valley is under scrutiny by the Clark County Commission.

 While Clark County has said that the Lion Habitat Ranch, located about six miles south of the M Resort, can’t have more than 40 animals, it’s currently Las Vegas’ only facility resembling that of a local zoo.

The six-acre plot of land currently houses about 46 lions, some of which originated from the MGM Resort habitat that closed in 2012. The facility also acquired some new guests – a giraffe, several birds, emus and ostriches. The Clark County Board of Commissioners got wind of the additional animals after local animal rights groups saw them advertised on social media sites.

The letters to the county expressed concern that the ranch isn’t big enough for such a cadre of animals, and that nearby residents’ safety may be compromised should an animal escape. Clark County Board of Commissioners Chair Steve Sisolak said he has visited the Lion Habitat Ranch, and saw for himself that the well-being of the animals is the highest priority.

Keith Evans, owner and president of the Lion Habitat Ranch, a nonprofit organization, also lives on the property. He said he considers the animals like his children, and that he’s not going to give up on these commitments. The Lion Habitat Ranch offers visitors the unique experience to get up and close with certain lions by feeding them with trainers present.

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Clark County Commissioners met Wednesday and delayed a decision about the habitat, citing efforts for a compromise. A compromise may come in the form of agreeing that the habitat returns to the original 40 animals, likely through attrition, since 15 of Evans’ lions are at the later stages of their lives.

As for Las Vegas seeing a new zoo, well, Evans said it would take some philanthropic help, since the care for one lion alone costs roughly $60,000 a month. For more information on the Lion Habitat Ranch, visit thecathouse.us.

Copyright 2015 KNPR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.knpr.org/.
Guests

 

Steve Sisolak, chair, Clark County Board of Commissioners; Keith Evans, president, Lion Habitat Ranch

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