on May 15, 2007
The Secret Garden isn't flashy like SeaWorld, and it isn't as informative as some modern zoos. But it's a nice slow break from the hustle and bustle.
We've swam with dolphins before in Mexico, and at Discovery Cove (SeaWorld, Orlando). The "trainer experience" is available through the Mirage Hotel. Check the website for current price$e$.
The Secret Garden staff don't claim and don't pretend that anything they do is a show. After a brief safety lecture, you're free to walk around and spend as much time as you'd like in the garden. You get to watch some "training" sessions with the high-paying guests.
In our opinion, this was pretty amusing, educational, and entertaining. Your general admission lets you get pretty close to the dolphins. Closer than at SeaWorld, for a fraction of the price.
In one of the quiet pools, we got to observe a mother and her (full grown) calf playing. At one point, the mother hopped out of the water to rest on the side of the pool. A trainer told us that "Mom" sometimes gets fed up and tired of the rough play. In fact, the mommy dolphin was panting for a bit. She seemed to enjoy a little peace before slipping back into the pool.
You can even watch the dolphins swim underwater from an underground windowed viewing area.
As far as the big cats go...be warned, they like to sleep all day in the hot Vegas climate. They are nice to look at, but it's more like a static zoo experience.
Gildah the elephant was not there when we visited.
If you've got kids, or are a big kid at heart, $15 and an hour is cheap for Vegas.
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