Methuselah, the 600-pound giant Galapagos tortoise, and Reptile Gardens long-time resident and mascot, died in July of 2011. One year later, on July 10, 2012, we unveiled a life-sized bronze of Methuselah in a brand new playground dedicated to Methuselah and all the kids who knew and loved him.
The new Black Hills playground was constructed at Reptile Gardens which houses the bronze cast of Methuselah as a tribute to his memory. July 10th, 2012, the day of the unveiling was declared, "Go Slow For A Day," by the Mayor of Rapid City in honor of the beloved mascot.
Children are welcome to play on the bronze of the giant tortoise and have pictures taken, just as many kids and families have done since Methuselah first arrived at Reptile Gardens in 1954. It is estimated that Methuselah contacted over 12 million visitors in his 56 years at Reptile gardens and may very well be one of the most photographed animals in the US!
Fun Facts About the Bronze Statue of Methuselah
- The bronze statue is an exact casting of the real Methuselah.
- Methuselah was posed and detailed molds made of every part of his body by former Reptile Gardens staff member, Matt Seney and Chris Cammack of Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studio.
- It took Matt and Chris over 300 hours, over the course of several months, to complete the mold-making process. Due to the complexity of the process and their desire to make a perfect impression, they worked in subzero temperatures, and at one point, had to use a forklift, a concrete culvert, and numerous inner tubes to complete the molds.
- Once the superbly detailed molds were completed they were delivered to Grant Standard and his crew at Black Hills Bronze foundry in Hill City, SD. They put their top people on making the finely detailed wax impressions of the original cast to then be cast in bronze using the lost wax technique.
- There were about 25 separate molds that were cast in bronze and then carefully welded together.
- The finished bronze weighs 360 pounds.
- Our friends at SECO Construction spent the winter of 2011/1012 creating the fun new Methuselah's Playground, home to the completed bronze. In the final weeks before the unveiling, SECO foreman James Graff worked closely with Black Hills Bronze to prepare the base on which the bronze would sit. He then moved the statue into place on the night of July 9.