Southern Nevada Zoo
Unlike most of the activities and attractions in Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada Zoo — locally known as the Las Vegas Zoo — is fairly low profile, but for families and worn-out revelers, it offers a more sedate, yet educational, experience, with the opportunity to see some of the world’s most exotic creatures.
Occupying three acres and open year round, the zoo is a 15-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of the Vegas Strip, and exhibits more than 150 species of animals and plants. Surrounded by foliage, the property feels like it’s in another world away from the bright lights of the city. The added bonus is that, because of its smaller size, the zoo’s staff is able to provide more attention to the animals and the visitors.
Built to resemble each species’ natural habitat, the zoo is home to endangered cats like the African lion, cougar, and Eurasian lynx, colorful birds including pink Chilean flamingoes, talking parrots, and macaws as well as ostriches and emus and a lively family of Barbary apes, the last in the United States. You’ll also find fossas — the largest carnivores on the island of Madagascar — wallabies, python, and boa constrictors.
Take a hands-on approach and try feeding the birds that wander freely through the park — seed is available for purchase at the park’s entrance. Cute pygmy goats and chickens can also be hand fed.
Stop by the colorful exhibit from the Las Vegas Gem Club, featuring pretty stones and crystals, and the botanical display on endangered plant species and rare bamboo.
Run as a nonprofit organization, the zoo’s mission is to educate visitors, especially children, about the world’s endangered species and the importance of preserving their homes. If your experience at the zoo inspires you to help its mission, check out its Adopt an Animal program, which helps to fund maintenance and health care.
The zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. Purchase tickets at the gates; there are discounts for children and large groups. Remember your hat and sunscreen in the blistering summer months, a time when many of the animals play hide and seek as they try to avoid the heat.