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Scales and Tales

Reptile Gardens' spring season begins April 1

Rapid City, S.D. — It has been a busy winter for Reptile Gardens staff members as they prepare for the start of another exciting season.

Reptile Gardens Catt flowerThe world famous reptile zoo will officially open their doors on Saturday, Mar. 31—one day earlier than usual to accommodate for the weekend.

From the opening day until May 28, Reptile Gardens will observe spring hours which are everyday from 9 a.m. — 4 p.m. Admission is lower during this time. When a guest pays the first-time admission fee they are entitled to visit the park for the rest of the season for free. That makes now the perfect time for visitors who plan on visiting the Gardens often this summer to pick up their summer passes.

Reptile Garden's CEO, Joe Maierhauser, says they have been working hard to get everything cleaned, repainted and looking good for the opening weekend. He says there are several attractions this season that no one has ever before seen or experienced.

"The orchid exhibit will be changed and even more spectacular," Maierhauser said. "The desert area located inside the Sky Dome was completely renovated. New exotic palm trees and other tropical plants will be added."

A brand new outdoor exhibit for Maniac, Reptile Gardens' showcase saltwater crocodile, will be finished by the time conditions are warm enough to let him outside.

Another thing to look forward to this season will be the completion of Methuselah's playground and the bronze statue to be erected in honor of the beloved giant tortoise.

"Since Methuselah was all about kids for all the years he was here, we decided to make his memorial a fun kids area," Maierhauser said.

The life-sized, life-cast statue of Methuselah is currently being built and will be unveiled on the anniversary of his death, July 10.

This season will be a very exciting one with attendance expected to match or exceed that of last years. With all the new things to see and do, returning visitors should have plenty of reasons to come back for another memorable trip.

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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!