. . . for the first time ever (that's why I've been AWOL), and top of my list for the 48 hours was Siegfied and Roy's Magic Garden at the Mirage. Though this is not a large park at all (and you will spend $15 to get in, I'm warning you), I found its beauty and intimacy remarkable considering. You walk very near the animals' enclosures, and will find a large predator staring at you carefully from 6 feet off.
Though I wouldn't be so irresponsible as to say they were friendly as we know pets, the lions and tigers seemed curious and benign as they looked us over. And the two white tiger cubs they have right now - romping, rolling, chewing little monsters - well, they were almost close enough to touch, and the experience was happy and rare.