Animal lovers captive audience at Roos-N-More


Roos-N-More, near Moapa, offers a hands-on zoo experience with more than 160 animals.

The collection got its start in 2006, growing out of Las Vegas veterinarians Valerie and Jay Holt’s interest in unusual animals. Out of room in the city, the Holt family relocated to Moapa Valley. They had acquired a mob of 15 assorted kangaroos and wallabies, a collection of exotic pets and several domestic animals.

The developing zoo welcomed animals from all over the world, with a few limitations: To be part of the menagerie, the animals could not be predators and had to get along with the other zoo inhabitants. Animals with special needs were safely housed in smaller enclosures with play features and dens or nesting areas, including room for extensive burrows for underground dwellers.

In 2008, the Holts opened the property to the public once a month. People were stopping by all the time to see the animals anyway, so the Holts seized the opportunity to educate, as well as entertain, the public. Because the animals were hand-raised, friendly, curious and used to people, the zoo was an immediate hit.

The surrounding community proved supportive of the zoo. Soon, volunteers were helping with the care, feeding and handling of the animals and serving as tour guides.

Today, the zoo attracts crowds of visitors on the few days a month that it is open to the public. Upcoming visiting days include March 24, April 7 and April 21.

Visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and arriving before 11:30 a.m. is recommended. The cost is $10 per person, and admission is free for children 2 and younger.

Private two-hour guided tours are available at other times for groups of up to 25 people. These private tours cost $250. Roos-N-More often hosts groups for special occasions such as birthday parties. Call the zoo at 467-3585 for inquiries or to book a private tour.

Although the zoo includes large enclosures inhabited by groups of compatible animals, the nursery might be the most popular section of the zoo. Hand-raised babies of many species are on display. Visitors can pet a gentle camel, feed carrots to a zebra, stroke a young kangaroo, watch otters at play and observe large porcupines picking among fruits and vegetables.

Return visitors always find some new attraction, especially in the springtime when baby animals frequently arrive.

Visitors currently can participate in “Walk with Otters” in limited numbers. Available on a first-come basis, this side trip into the playful lives of otters costs $15 in addition to the regular entry fee.

To reach Roos-N-More, drive north on Interstate 15 about 45 miles to exit 90 at Glendale. Turn onto state Route 168, the highway west through Moapa Valley that connects to U.S. Highway 93 near Coyote Springs. Driving west, you’ll pass the post office and elementary school.

Just beyond the school, turn right on Henrie Road. Head north for a couple of miles, watching for Isola Drive at the top of a little bluff.

Turn east on Isola and travel about half a block to the first graded side road on the left. Turn left to drop down into a little valley where the zoo is located, at 746 Snowden Ranch Road.

Roos-N-More meets all the requirements of the Zoological Association of America. It also is licensed for exhibition and captive breeding of exotic animals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Connections with other zoos provide opportunities for trading of zoo residents and participation in captive breeding programs. The zoo also has outreach programs that stress conservation through education.

A nonprofit group, Friends of Roos-N-More, assists the zoo operation in many ways, including finding volunteers, scheduling tours and assembling a wide variety of materials that the zoo needs.

Find out more about the zoo, special events and volunteer opportunities at www.roosnmore.com.

Margo Bartlett Pesek’s Trip of the Week column appears on Sundays.