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

Bentley the Lion, one of the former cats part of 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 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 also 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 feature 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. Bentley 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 were instead shuttled in and out by their handler Keith Evans on a daily basis. 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 the Lion recently became ill. After an initial test showed the lion was anemic, Bentley underwent additional testing but did not 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 give him any warning 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

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

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

Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium offers guests to get personal — albeit safely — with a variety of sharks. Along with dozens of sharks, the attraction includes more than 2,000 animals, including giant stingrays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha, and even a Komodo dragon.

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