Just across from The Venetian is the Mirage. As you enter via a people-mover, you can stop and enjoy looking at the beautiful white tigers for free. At the time of my visit, there was only one tiger on display. I understand the cats are rotated out every few hours. The tiger is glassed in and a short program on the cats is presented in a continuous loop.
Towards the back of the Mirage is the Secret Garden. I had some doubts about the value of a visit but decided what the heck. Unfortunately, the part of the Garden that displays the cats (tiger, lion, and leopard) and elephant was closed. The reason given was that it was getting dark early, and under those situations, the cats can see you but you can't see them, and that’s, to quote the Mirage employee, "not good." I guess they are thinking Montecore Goes Nuts Part II.
The dolphin habitat was the only thing open. I was pleasantly surprised here. I was thinking I'd be kept at arm's length, like at SeaWorld. Instead, after a brief intro, you are free to hang about the three separate pools with their resident dolphins and just watch. There is no "show" per say, just an opportunity to watch the trainers interact with the dolphins in what the Mirage bills as "training and research." I just enjoyed seeing these mammals so close-up. An underwater viewing area is also available, and you can get nearly eye-to-eye with the dolphins. I spent about 45 minutes here, which I think is about the average.
At the time of my visit, there were only about a hundred people in total about, so I didn't feel crowded. A café by the pools serves food and drinks.