The MGM Hotel and Casino features a massive lion in the front corner. It’s overlooking the south end of the strip and makes for some fun pictures. I spent some time looking for better angles to photograph him – the best seemed to be about 100 yards away on a bridge so that you could have a better background. In this image you can see New York New York; Aria and Monte Carlo across Las Vegas Blvd in the background.
In case you were wondering, the Lion does have a name – it’s Leo. According to MGM’s website and wikipedia, Leo the Lion is the mascot for the Hollywood film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and one of its predecessors, Goldwyn Pictures. The same lion is featured in the studio’s production logo, which was created by the Paramount Studios art director Lionel S. Reiss.
Since 1924 (when the studio was formed by the merger of Samuel Goldwyn’s studio with Marcus Loew’s Metro Pictures and Louis B. Mayer’s company), there have been around five different lions used for the MGM logo. These lions include Slats, Jackie, Tanner, George and Leo, the current (and fifth) lion.
Tanner was used on all Technicolor films and MGM cartoons (including the Tom and Jerry series), and was used on the studio logo for 22 years (Leo has been in use since 1957, a total of 54 years and counting).
The MGM Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is the 2nd largest hotel in the world. It was the largest in the world when it opened in 1993. MGM Grand features a glass-sided lion habitat inside the casino area, in which up to six lions are shown every day. A see-through tunnel runs through the habitat for close-up viewing. The lions are owned by Keith Evans, a trainer of exotic animals, and do not live at the habitat, but at his ranch 12 miles (19 km) outside Las Vegas.
If you’re superstitious, you are not alone in the world. The original MGM Casino featured a giant Lion’s head at the main entrance. Customers actually walked in the open mouth of the lion to get into the casino. Apparently, some of MGM’s Chinese high-rollers were superstitious about this and MGM changed it.
In 1998, this large bronze statue of Leo was added above the entrance to keep with the MGM Lion theme, while not scaring away their more superstitious guests. The statue weighs 50 tons, and at 45 feet (14 m) tall, on a 25-foot pedestal, is the largest bronze statue in the U.S.
Shot with a Canon 7d and 15-85 using a Vanguard Tripod (HDR 3 stops)
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