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Scales and Tales

Reptile Gardens celebrates the Year of the Dragon

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Chinese Zodiac is a very spiritual and religious commitment for the people who believe in it. The way the stars align for an individual with this belief can help explain a lot about their outlook on life.

The Chinese calendar is broken up into twelve different animal years. For example, there is the year of the: Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, etc. Each animal year has a specific date range. The Year of the Dragon began Jan. 23, 2012 and ends on Feb. 9, 2013. During this time there is a general feeling of optimism.

Dragons are seen as auspicious, or, lucky. The staff members at Reptile Gardens hope that this intangible "luck" will translate into a great year for business, and as Reptiles Gardens CEO, Joe Maierhauser explains, things are heading in the right direction.

"This year we have already experienced a lot of neat things including bronze casting of Methuselah which will be dedicated on July 10—exactly one year after our giant tortoise died."

Going hand-in-hand with the statue casting is the mayor's proclamation of "Go Slow for a Day" which his also being held in memory of the late Methuselah.

As a reptile zoo, Reptile Gardens take consideration into how the history of our different species is incorporated into other cultures.

In Chinese culture the dragon symbolizes dominance and ambition. It is the mightiest of all the signs.

Depending on when your birthday falls you with many implications that speak about a person's character.

The Year of the Dragon is a period of optimism.

The Chinese calendar is marked by twelve different animal years.

Unlike the American calendar which is incremented by twelve different months. However, instead of months, the Chinese calendar refers to each month by a different animal name.

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About Us

Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing or go on a 3D safari. Our very own old west ghost town as numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!