Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, a popular attraction at The Mirage for more than three decades, are permanently closed.
The decision to close the attraction and relocate the animals was announced Tuesday in a joint memo from Interim Mirage President Franz Callao and Hard Rock Las Vegas President Joe Lupo.
Bill Hornbuckle, CEO of MGM Resorts International, told Habitat staff Tuesday afternoon.
The schedule for the transfer of the animals has not yet been determined. But sure, the habitat isn’t in the long-term plans for the upcoming property owner of the Hard Rock Hotel. It’s not even certain the habitat will reopen, after being closed in September following the death of K2’s bottlenose dolphin on September 25th. K2 is the third death of a dolphin this year in the habitat.
The two companies are in ongoing talks about how to handle the habitat closure.
“The Hard Rock leadership team has spent several months looking at options and discussing the facility openly with the leadership teams at both The Mirage and MGM Resorts,” the company’s dual letter read. “As Hard Rock contemplated their vision for The Mirage post-closure, the team decided the best course of action was to cool off and permanently close the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat before beginning construction on the Guitar Hotel and other planned transformative redevelopment at the Mirage.”
The letter went on to explain that the animals would be moved to homes headed by “well-trained and highly respected veterinary professionals and experts.”
From the memo: “As you are aware, Dolphin Habitat is temporarily closed until outside experts and the animal care team can conduct a comprehensive review of the animals and the facility. We are nearing completion of this review but have not yet determined when or in what capacity the facility will reopen.”
Hard Rock has announced plans to halt another popular Mirage attraction, the volcano fronting the Strip, in the process of its renovation. The long-term vision of the Cirque du Soleil-Beatles production “Love” has yet to be defined, yet it is committed to operating until the end of 2023.
Also to be determined are plans for the future – if any – of lead star Shin Lim and the hit series Aces of Comedy, both at the Mirage Theatre.
The secret garden opened in 1990 and has been home to dozens of bottlenose dolphins, white tigers, albino lions and leopards. The strange cats were Siegfried and Roy’s home.
Siegfried Fischbacher was known to visit the abode regularly to mingle with the guests and display sleight-of-hand magic by having coins appear from visitors’ forearms or behind their ears. The Secret Garden was the last public experiment under the S&R brand.
Lynette Chappelle, the “evil queen” of the onstage duo and confidant of Siegfried and Roy for 50 years, said the domicile was a “good run”. She expected this result.
“Honestly, it’s not a surprise,” Chappelle said Tuesday afternoon. “The hotel was amazing, our tigers and lions were very well taken care of. The staff was exceptional. It was an amazing experience and a great time.”
A Letter from Franz and Joe… Posted by Las Vegas Review Journal
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in Section A. “PodKats!” The podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected] Follow @tweet on Twitter and @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.