Mirage’s Exotic Cats Relocated to Sanctuaries

Mirage’s collection of exotic cats, holdovers from Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat, have been relocated to sanctuaries in Oregon and Texas.

The resort’s remaining dolphins were relocated in May 2023.

Mirage’s owners, Hard Rock International, permanently closed the Secret Garden in Nov. 2022.

Moving the cats and dolphins to sanctuaries marks the end of an awkward era in Las Vegas.

Seeing big cats up close is a rawr opportunity.

The relocation of the exotic cats at Mirage took longer than the dolphins because the cats were owned by S&R Production Co., Siegfried and Roy’s company that holds the exhibitor license. Several of the dolphins were on loan from Sea World in San Diego, so returning them was a more straightforward process.

The cats now reside at WildCat Ridge Sanctuary in Scotts Mills, Oregon and In-Sync Exotics in Wylie, Texas.

There were five tigers, two lions, two leopards and a panther. “Panther” can used to describe a black jaguar or a black leopard. We’re pretty sure this was a black leopard. At one point, Siegfried and Roy had 32 white tigers. Inbreeding for the win. One sanctuary reportedly got the remaining Mirage tigers, the other got the lions and leopards.

It’s worth noting S&R Production Co. has not released the number of cats relocated. Why would they be reluctant to provide that information? Given the excellence of our local media, we may never know. It’s sort of like when Siegfried and Roy were still around. “Just parrot what we say without asking any questions. Danke!”

So, Oregon and Texas. Which cats went to which sanctuary was decided by asking them who they intend to vote for in the next Presidential election, a fun fact we may have just made up. Because Oregon and Texas.

The exotic cats were moved at two separate times in the last couple of months. Mirage announces relocations after they’re completed, presumably to avoid media attention or protestors who might cause the animals additional stress.

We checked out the Web sites of WildCat Ridge Sanctuary and In-Sync Exotics and the animals appear to be having a blast.

As you might expect, donations were made by Hard Rock International, S&R Production Co. and even MGM Resorts to these sanctuaries, but the companies have chosen not to brag about it, apparently. We think it’s a great way to send off these creatures. The donations will help other animals and ensure the older Secret Garden cats will get the special attention they need.

It’s telling the cats didn’t go to our local Lion Habitat Ranch. Then again, after 30 years in 120-degree heat, we trust the cats were just over Las Vegas, already.

Here’s the letter distributed to Mirage employees about the relocation of the big cats.

It was time.

The news of the relocation of Mirage’s cats and dolphins feels like a dark cloud over Las Vegas has dissipated.

Siegfried and Roy are Las Vegas legends, but they got there by exploiting animals, and the practice came back to bite them in the end.

They’re gone, lighten up.

Times change. Tastes and sensibilities change. The time for using animals for entertainment had to change.

The jury’s still out on Gregory Popovich. We’ll give Mac King a pass on the goldfish. But don’t get us started about how many doves die unnecessarily due to their use in Criss Angel’s show.

Even Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus stopped using animals.

Big cats were a staple of Las Vegas magic shows, but they’ve all gone away, thankfully.

Dirk Arthur tried a return, but the show was nixed. Magician Jay Owenhouse tried to bring a big cat show to The Strip, but that was shot down as well. Owenhouse still plans a show, but sans cats. Good luck with that.

In their day, Siegfried and Roy were the most successful performers in the history of Las Vegas. Looking back, it was Bizarro World.

Their story is incredible, tragic (they never publicly acknowledged the nature of their personal relationship), outrageous, groundbreaking, secretive, delusional (“The tiger was trying to protect Roy!”) and in many ways, magical. It’s safe to say, we’ll never see anyone like them again.

We heard Siegfried and Roy once inquired about what’s involved with purchasing a little person. We are not making this up.

Eccentricities aside, casinos have been trying to capture Siegfried and Roy’s sense of spectacle (and financial success) ever since.

Here’s part one of a “20/20” profile P.R. fluff piece that covers a good bit of ground. Confirmed: Criss Angel can ruin anything.

Downside: “Siegfried and Roy started the whole family-friendly trend that you see everywhere in Las Vegas now.” Nobody’s perfect.

Watch the entire episode of “20/20” if you can. It’s full of gems like the tidbit the duo wore boots with two-inch heels onstage, and lifts, leading to physical problems. Also, it wasn’t “Montecore’s first time onstage.” (Montecore was the tiger that attacked Roy Horn. Sorry, protected Roy Horn.) It’s not lying, it’s showbiz!

It’s also worth mentioning the show touches upon the fact Siegfried and Roy put innumerable audience members in danger over the years, something that would never fly now, lawyerwise.

Anyhoo, this wasn’t supposed to be about the past, it’s about the future.

Mirage has maneuvered through this minefield fairly deftly, and the cats and dolphins are going to live our their lives in a better, cooler place.

Now, the resort can focus on what’s next, rather than the mess it inherited.

Mirage will be transitioning to Hard Rock Las Vegas with the goal of opening in 2025, including a shiny new hotel tower shaped like a guitar.

In short, the Mirage will be the cat’s meow, just without the cats.


For our fellow youths, “cat’s meow” was a colloquialism once used interchangeably with “cat’s pajamas” or “bee’s knees.” Today’s equivalent would be “bomb,” “fire,” “dope” or possibly “phat” or “WAP.” That last one was a joke. Do not Google it. It would make Sigfried and Roy blush.

Update (7/20): A local TV station shared specifics about the cats being transferred to Texas. The sanctuary in Wylie received nine-year-old white lions Madiba and Timba-Masai, 14-year-old black leopard Shadow and 19-year-old spotted leopards Neruda and Ibasa.