What We Do
Our mission is to offer Guests an amazing experience while positively contributing to the future of our animal residents, as well as our community, by educating the public about important environmental issues and working closely with many major zoos worldwide to promote species survival.
Family owned and operated since 1937
Founded in 1937 by our reptile-loving patriarch, Earl Brockelsby, Reptile Gardens has steadily grown to one of the most popular South Dakota attractions, drawing crowds from all over the Midwest and beyond. We are the largest reptile zoo in the world, housing more species of reptiles than any other zoo or wild animal park.
Our second and third generations are dedicated to carrying on Earl's legacy, not only by having top-notch displays, but while also offering outstanding hospitality. This latter quality was honored by the State of South Dakota in 1994 when we became the second recipient of the George Mickelson Award for Great Service to South Dakota visitors.
Today, we continue on as a family business with Earl's nephew, Joe Maierhauser, as the President, Chairman of the Board, & CEO; Earl’s sons, John as director of public relations, and Jeff as Assistant General Manager; his daughter, Judee Oldham, is the corporate secretary and her son, Jeff Oldham, is Assistant General Manager.
Preserving the legacy
Since our beginning, we have provided a great entertainment experience for literally millions of visitors by giving them the chance to observe exotic animals up close.
We place a huge emphasis on finding really rare, unusual or beautiful animals*, as well as legendary animals like the deadly Boomslang, the elusive Bushmaster, or even the common garter snake many Guests encounter on a regular basis. We also pride ourselves on creating fun reptile enclosures with minerals, woodcarvings, and photos.
But, we’re not just about the animals! We also showcase a myriad of flowers and flowerbeds, orchids and bromeliads - expanding the park far beyond what Earl could have imagined.
*Most of the animals in our collection are zoo trades; they are not captured in the wild. We also work closely with each of our animal’s native country and strictly comply with all government regulations.