Bentley the Lion, Former MGM Grand Inhabitant, Dead at 15

Posted on: September 1, 2022, 12:08h. 

Last updated on: September 1, 2022, 12:24h.

Bentley the Lion, one of the former cats in the lion display at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, has passed away at the age of 15 years old.

Bentley the Lion MGM Grand Las Vegas zoo
Bentley the Lion on an old advertisement for the Lion Habitat at MGM Grand. Bentley died this week at the age of 15. (Image: MGM Resorts)

MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the world, with more than 6,800 guestrooms. The iconic Strip property was previously known for its popular lion habitat attraction inside the casino area that allowed visitors to get up close with the muscular, broad-chested animals.

MGM Grand housed its Lion Habitat for 12 years. The glass-encased, indoor attraction wowed guests from 1999 until its closure in early 2012. MGM opted to do away with the lions amid a $160 million renovation of the resort’s main casino floor.

Bentley was a fixture at MGM Grand for the final six years of the Lion Habitat. He was reportedly a descendant of Leo, who was the most recent lion used by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios for its movie “bumper,” which is the technical term for a movie studio’s branding/logo that runs during a film’s opening credits.

The lions never lived at MGM Grand but, instead, shuttled in and out by their handler Keith Evans daily. After the lion exhibit at MGM Grand shuttered, Evans moved the attraction to his ranch in nearby Henderson.

Today, Evans’ Lion Habit Ranch allows visitors to continue seeing the lions.

Bentley Illness

In an Instagram post, Evans explained that Bentley recently became ill. After an initial test showed the lion was anemic, Bentley underwent additional testing but didn’t survive the procedures. Evans said the later tests revealed that Bentley had aplastic anemia, cancer, and leukemia.

“Bentley was almost 16 years old, which for a lion is geriatric,” Evans explained to Bentley’s followers and fans.

We empathize with the many of you who had wonderful memories and moments with Bentley. Bentley will continue to hold a special place in all of our heats,” Evans concluded.

Evans said in 2011 that MGM Resorts didn’t warn him regarding the closing of the MGM Grand Lion Habitat.

“We were caught off guard,” Evans told the Las Vegas Sun at the time. “The lion is the hotel’s logo. I never understand corporate thinking.”

Though the lions were free to see at MGM Grand, Evans charges $25 per person for out-of-state guests to walk through his Lion Habit Ranch. Tickets for Nevadans are $20. Further discounts are available for seniors, active military and veterans, first responders, and college students. Children aged 14 and under are free with a paying adult.

Strip Animal Attractions

Las Vegas has it covered for families visiting Southern Nevada or anyone looking to check out an animal exhibit.

Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat on the Strip at The Mirage is one such attraction. The exhibit allows guests to meet with bottlenose dolphins, white tigers, lions, and leopards face-to-face.

Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium allows guests to get personal — albeit safely — with various sharks. The attraction includes more than 2,000 sharks, including giant stingrays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha, and even a Komodo dragon.