The wildlife habitat at Flamingo Las Vegas is truly an oasis within the oasis that is the Las Vegas Strip, and this blog visits as often as possible to take in the surprising diversity of animals on display, including a pair of rescued pelicans.
This blog loves it some pelicans.
Bugsy and Virginia are alive and well at Flamingo Las Vegas! The pelicans are named after the colorful mob figure who helped make the Flamingo a reality back in 1946, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, and his girlfriend, Virginia Hill.
While the habitat’s Chilean flamingos get a lot of the limelight, we think the comical Bugsy and Virginia steal the show.
It’s easy to tell Bugsy and Virginia apart. This is one of them.
You can tell Bugsy and Virginia apart because she’s gray (and her head’s a little yellow), while Bugsy’s darker in color. Virginia is three, and Bugsy’s between one and two years old.
“You’re creeping everybody out right now. I can’t take you anywhere.”
Now, guests can enjoy feedings of the charming birds, along with a presentation by the dedicated staff at the wildlife habitat, including Jackie Liptak, pictured below.
Bugsy and Virginia get the VIP treatment.
We grabbed some video of Jackie doing her feeding presentation, whether she wanted us to or not. Feedings take place at 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. each day. We’re thinking you’ll probably make the 2:00 p.m. if you’re doing Vegas as it was intended to be done.
Neither of the pelicans are able to fly due to injuries before they were rescued, so they’re not able to be released back into the wild. They were in pretty rough shape when they arrived, but the team at Flamingo is slowly nursing them back to health.
Bugsy’s been through a lot, so be nice.
The habitat is teeming with wildlife. That’s probably why they call it the “wildlife habitat.” Just a guess.
Hannah, below, is a black-necked swan and is almost 20 years old, or nearly old enough to play the slot machines nearby. Hey, it’s Vegas. Hannah’s been at the Flamingo since she was three.
Yes, she’ll beg, but don’t cave. No human food, please.
Oh, that reminds us, don’t throw coins in the ponds at the wildlife habitat for luck. If the birds eat the coins, it can be dangerous. If you need some luck, you can throw your spare change into the nearby fountains outside Carlos’n Charlie’s restaurant.
The pond at the habitat is a “living pond,” meaning it’s stocked with things its inhabitants can eat, such as minnows and crayfish. So, no coins or litter, please.
If you hang out and observe, stories begin to unfold around you at the wildlife habitat. Even love stories.
For example, the birds below are truly an odd couple. The female Mallard that flew into the habitat, and its constant companion is a Cinnamon Teal. The Cinnamon Teal got an immediate crush, in spite of the difference in their cultural and religious backgrounds, and he’s been following her around ever since.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
The staff at the habitat are happy to share their wealth of knowledge about all the animals under their capable care. Below is Robin Matos, the Wildlife Manager.
Robin’s brain is full of wildlife facts. Ask her for some.
Of the odd couple, Matos says, “Mallards look a lot like a Cinnamon Teal hen, just four times larger. So, I think he just likes big girls.”
Below, is the male Hooded Merganser, complete with “breeding plumage,” which sounds a little like what you wear when you visit a Vegas nightclub, if you ask us.
Perhaps the last thing you expected to see during your visit: A Hooded Merganser.
And we can’t forget about the whistling ducks. They’re called whistling ducks because they don’t quack, they, you know, whistle. This isn’t rocket science.
We are forced to say the whistling ducks are adorbs.
The ponds at the wildlife habitat have more than 300 fish, and about 15 fresh-water turtles.
During our visit, one of the turtles made a break for the hotel’s GO pool. Hey, we experience that urge often throughout our day, too. Jackie to the rescue, assisted by the pool’s turtle-wrangling lifeguards.
The turtles sometimes roam during egg-laying season, so watch your step.
A face only a mother, and this blog, could love.
Check out that cartilaginous shell, whatever that might actually be.
The wildlife habitat at Flamingo is one of our favorite free, family-friendly things to do in Las Vegas. Why do we love it so much? Just beak-cause. (We’ll be here all week.)