Home of Las Vegas’ first traffic light and high-rise building, Fremont Street keeps fans of vintage Vegas consistently starstruck, with lavish celebrations thrown by the landmark's eponymous party-planning committee. As 2011 wanes, the TributePalooza celebration shreds resolutions into neon ticker tape with eight hours of crowd-pleasing rock strewn across three stages. Headlining the event, raucous hair-metal heroes Steel Panther glam it up with unabashedly goofy stage moves and unapologetic spandex. Following suit with headbanging levity, fellow silly-string strummers Rock Sugar mash up sound-pies of ‘80s pop and mascara metal, creating laughter you can dance to.
The critters at Wild Adventures Zoo range from the familiar—turtles, hedgehogs, and geckos—to more exotic species such as kinkajous and blue-tongued skinks, but they all have one thing in common: they are in need of human care. Some of these animals were injured in the wild and some were neglected as house pets, but the staff of volunteers cares for each of them equally. The zoo is raising the funds it needs to open to the public, but that hasn't stopped the staff from sharing the animals' stories with the greater community. The Zoo to You program takes rescued animals on the road to schools and scout meetings to raise awareness about exotic animals.
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Keepers of the Wild founder Jonathan Kraft has always loved animals. As a child in Holland, he rehabilitated and released injured birds every winter. When he became a magician performing grand spectacles in Vegas, his affinity for animals led him to raise two baby tigers to integrate into his act, then eventually acquire and train more big cats. At first Kraft didn’t see the connection between his chosen career and the prevalence of animal mistreatment, but gradually he began to realize how cramped, stressed, and unhealthy his peers’ animals tended to be. His first steps toward rescue weren’t ideal—he didn’t have the space to give each animal the sprawling habitat it craved. So the next step was Keepers of the Wild a place designed to rescue exotic creatures from inhumane conditions and let them roam both safely and freely.
The center, located on historic route 66, now hosts more than 175 animals that include lions, tigers, leopards, and monkeys. Walking and hiking trails lead to enclosures where cougars lie in the sun or wolves trot between bushes. Plenty of lookouts offer photo ops or a chance to spy on capuchin monkeys’ poker games. Visitors can explore the grounds on their own or hop on a guided tour, where they’re shuttled to various habitats and can watch the predators feed.