Your Chance to Win a Lion Cub Encounter

This contest is now closed. 

‘Tis the season to be jolly! And in the spirit of gift giving and sharing the love, I am happy to announce that Nomad Grad is holding its FIRST giveaway. And let me tell you, it’ll give you the warm and fuzzies.  =)

Lion Habitat cub & bottle

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Opportunity

Have you ever dreamed of holding an adorable lion cub? Getting a photo with a baby Simba? Maybe even sharing that magical moment with a loved one or child? This season, we’re making dreams come true!

If you live in or near the Las Vegas area, or will be visiting for the holidays, now’s your chance to live the dream!

The Nomad Grad, in association with The Lion Habitat Ranch, is offering adventurers a chance to win a lion cub encounter in fabulous Las Vegas! The Lion Habitat Ranch is pleased to announce the arrival of seven adorable lion cubs and wants you to come out and visit them.

Lion Habitat cubs

Your “Lion Cub Encounter” will include:
>Free entry for you and a guest to The Lion Habitat Ranch
>5 minutes of lion cub interaction time for you and your guest
>Q&A session with the lion cub handlers
>Informal tour around the habitat with The Nomad Grad herself, Hilary Billings
>Permission to take your own photos and video of the experience

This Once-In-A-Lifetime Adventure is valued at $200.00

Julz cub 1


Send an e-mail to (or use the Contact form) detailing why you should win this once-in-a-lifetime encounter. Please include the following information in your e-mail:
-Name name, age, and general location
-Your contact information (e-mail & phone number)
-Whether or not you will be in or around Las Vegas, NV before January 2nd, 2013
-WHETHER OR NOT YOU OWN OR ARE AROUND HOUSE CATS OF ANY AGE OR KIND as they can carry diseases that are dangerous to our cubs. (This does not disqualify you— we just need to know. =)
-A few sentences on why you think you should win.

Please put LION CUB ENCOUNTER in the subject line of the e-mail, or include this at the top of the e-mail.

The contest will open 12:01 AM (PST) December 8, 2012 and close 11:59 PM (PST) December 12, 2012.

Cuddling cubs

The winner will be announced December 15th, 2012.
Winner must be at least 18 years of age.
**Winner MUST book and COMPLETE encounter before January 2nd, 2013.**
**Winner must arrange their own transportation to-and-from The Lion Habitat Ranch.**

Restrictions may apply. For full terms and conditions of giveaways, read this.


Lion Habitat Ranch

Why is there such a short entry period?
The cub encounters can only happen in a short window of time. This is done for the health and safety of the cubs and the safety of the visitors. The cubs grow bigger every day and The Lion Habitat Ranch can only safely provide animal encounters for a limited time. The Lion Habitat Ranch’s number one priority is the safety of the animal and its visitors.

If I win, why must I book and have my encounter by January 2nd?
Again, this is a safety ‘thing’. Because we are dealing with live animals (and growing babies) we are not able to extend the period beyond the 2nd of January. The lion cub experience MUST occur by January 2nd otherwise it is void. This is done for the safety of the lions and YOU.

Why do I have to tell you if I have cats?
Because house cats can carry diseases that are dangerous to our growing cubs. It doesn’t disqualify you; we just need to be aware so we can take precautions.

Can I bring my child to the lion cub encounter if I win?
Yes; all minors must be accompanied by an adult. All winners can bring one (1) guest.

About The Lion Habitat Ranch

The Lion Habitat Ranch is the home and retirement facility for the African lions previously seen at The MGM Grand Hotel. This state-of-the-art ranch, run by skilled trainer Keith Evans, has actively worked to preserve and protect wild lion habitats, as well as provide the best care, love, and social environment for their big kitties. Even though the MGM exhibit has closed, these cats are still in need of daily care, interaction, and love. These cats will live out their lives in their prides surrounded by the trainers that have handled them since they were babies.

Brother Lions

In an effort to continue to educate the public, as well as share with the community the importance of responsible exotic animal handling, The Lion Habitat Ranch now offers self-guided tours, private tours, and Trainer 4 A Day Experiences (reservations required).

Lion Ranch kids

To Learn More About The Ranch…
Visit their website!
Like them on Facebook!



29 thoughts on “Your Chance to Win a Lion Cub Encounter

  1. As a head trainer of many years, at an accredited Association of Zoos and Aquariums institution, I can say in my professional opinion, that the Lion Habitat Ranch seems like an incredibly unethical place. I watched the video on their website, where the head trainer is feeding the lion, and was astounded at how unprofessional he was. Most trainers do not even feed large cats by hand, due to the danger of doing so. They use a meat stick. Also, it is an uncommon practice to work in what we call “free contact” with large cats, due to the danger. Most large cats are trained through a fence, which is equally as effective. I was most disturbed by the video due to the two females pacing in a small enclosure in the background. How can they say that it is natural is beyond me. It is incredibly difficult to keep large cats in captivity, and even with large, naturalistic enclosures, they still pace. Pacing is indicative of stress and boredom. The chain link and concrete floors of this institution (asides from the fact that they charge visitors $200 to pet a cub) leads me to believe that these animals are not well cared for, and are a commodity. I’m not a PETA member, I work at a zoo. A place like this should not be promoted.

    • Hi Jess,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I always appreciate feedback and differing opinions.

      I’m sorry you feel this way. As I am not an animal trainer, I cannot say much on the matter except that Keith has worked with lions for over 40 years. He is very much aware of the danger and risk of hand feeding and working with the cats in close proximity. However, I can say that you working in a zoo (and probably working with a cat that was already full grown when you arrived) is very different than his relationships with his cats. He handles and raises each cat from birth and therefore is assimilated into their pride. They rub on their handlers, lick them, and roll over to have their bellies rubbed constantly. I don’t know if you ever visited their habitat at the MGM, but the handlers were in the enclosure with the cats 24/7 to play with them and make them feel safe. Yes, there is potential for risk but the handlers at the LHR believe that interacting with their cats makes them happier. They do not let any trainer work with a cat that has not been around them since they were babies. And they understand the risks involved. They do not let their visitors interact with their cats in that manner, only experienced handlers.

      I probably haven’t had the experience that you’ve had around cats, but in my multiple visits to all sorts of zoos, habitats, and lion enclosures, I’ve witnessed cats pacing when they see food involved. So while I’m not debating that pacing is indicative of what you have seen, I don’t believe it can be concluded solely on them doing so, especially if they’re watching another cat getting fed. That would be a question to ask Keith himself.

      Each enclosure has air conditioned and heated dens, dirt floors and giant toys, trees to climb, and multiple cats so they can play and love on each other. I’m sure they are not as aesthetically pleasing as some zoos or habitats, but they are working everyday to improve their habitats for their animals.

      Again, I don’t have your expertise, but I can sure attest to the love and professionalism of these handlers. There is nothing more important to them than the happiness of their cats. They are not a zoo and do not have the funding or resources that other places have, but they provide excellent care, love, and yes, hands on handling.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment! I hope sometime you can come out and see the love and happiness that these cats have. Wishing you all the best this holiday season!

      • Just as an added note about the chain link fences (since I forgot to address your concern about them), the fences are in place for the safety of the animals and the visitors. Since the cats are capable of jumping great heights, the chain link fences provide the best option to ensure their safety as well as to ensure no visitor can throw anything into their enclosures.

        While not the prettiest, chain link fences prevent horrific things from happening, like having an animal choke on debris that has fallen into the enclosure (as did happen at the Las Vegas Zoo a few years ago, resulting in the death of one of their lions), and allowing young children to visit the ranch without potentially falling into an enclosure or getting hurt (as did happen at that hyena enclosure at the Pittsburgh zoo earlier this year, resulting in the child’s death). So again, while it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option, it’s the best for both the safety of the cats and the visitors. And while I respect your opinion as a zoo keeper, the recent news events regarding zoo attacks, animals in zoos getting loose, and poor care resulting in animal death also show that sometimes even established places can get it wrong. I feel we should be grateful for handlers thinking about safety over aesthetics any day.

        Again, it may not be your personal preference, but I don’t feel like you can conclude it’s an ‘unprofessional’ enclosure based off of fencing.

        Thank you again for taking the time to comment. I’m always happy to share information and receive more information myself. =)

    • Yay lion lovers!

      Don’t worry… we’re already discussing future giveaways that will have a much longer redeeming period. So readers from all over will have the opportunity to enter. =)

      If you could, please share on your facebook/twitter/blog/whatever. The more interest we can get the more opportunities I will have to give you guys awesome experiences! =)

    • Whoohoo! So glad you’re entering! I wish you the best of luck! An associate of the lion habitat will be choosing the winner this Thursday. Please check back Friday for the official announcement!

  2. Blast, blast, blast! I was going to be in SFO in December but now I won’t be back that way (or so it seems) until May.
    Good luck to all. What a brilliant experience to be part of, not just for the winners but for having the opportunity to work with them, Hilary. =)

    Regardless, I do hope to catch you in May/June for a few cheeky drinks and some insiders tips on Las Vegas. 😉

    • Hey miss Nicole! No worries; we will do more giveaways in the future! We’re already working on seeing what else we can partner with. I love that my fellow adventurers are so excited about the habitat. It truly is a great organization and a wonderful experience. =)

      I do hope you’ll share the contest! The more we can bring attention to it, the more lion giveaways we’ll be able to do in the future.

      And yes, I would love that! If I’m in town I’m all yours. =)

    • Hi Hal,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I respect your views and am happy to see someone so passionate about the subject.

      Just to help clear the air and give you a better idea of what’s going on, the west African lions (like those that have been bred) are currently endangered in the wild. Their population has plummeted in recent years. You can read more about that here:

      The Lion Habitat works tirelessly to help raise awareness and funds to protect the environments of wild cats, as well as bring awareness to the public about the situation.

      However, if the poaching and encroachment on their lands continues, there will be no more wild lions at all. These particular cats were originally bred to be a part of the MGM habitat. They live comfy lives in prides and state-of-the art homes. They have full-time staff to play, clean, and care for these animals. These lions will live to be 20 years old where they may only make it to half that in the wild.

      I understand that it’s not the same as them being in the wild, but we believe that if people are going to be around exotic animals, it should be in an environment where the animals are loved, well cared for, and where the handlers have been dedicated to their animals since they were cubs.

      While this may not be an experience for you, I hope you find peace in knowing that these animals receive the utmost quality of care, and one of the main goals of their handlers and trainers is to help the wild cats so that future generations can learn about and enjoy them. Without organizations and dedicated lion lovers like these ones, we may not soon have any african lions left in the world.

      Thanks for commenting! Wishing you a very happy holiday season!

  3. It’s a great contest, but alas, I must pass. There is just no way I can get time off or travel to Vegas this year. I gotta admit though. Part of me would much rather get a chance to hug one of the full grown lions instead. Do they like catnip?

    • No worries; Gene! We’re already working on future contest possibilities that would allow my non-local readers to participate. =)

      Not big on catnip. Horse meat, tri-tip and raw chickens, however… =)

    • Thanks, Juls!

      I’m hoping next time I can open it up to adventurers all over the world. Unfortunately with the babies, and the limited amount of time they can be handled, it has to be someone who will be in or around the area in the next few weeks.

      But I do hope you’ll share it! The more interest we can generate, the more giveaways I can do. =)

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