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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.


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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.


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Unique holiday gift shopping at Reptile Gardens

These Himalayan Salt Rocks give a nice soft glow in the dark.


By now, you have survived the Black Friday chaos and maybe even snagged some deals on Cyber Monday — the Monday after Black Friday set aside for online shoppers.

If you still have some gift shopping to do but don't know where to start, try the gift shop at Reptile Gardens where you'll find a wide range of items from t-shirts to New Guinea artifacts.

Everyone knows that person who is impossible to shop for. They are into "unusual" things and you never know what to get them. Reptile Gardens has plenty of unique gifts, especially for animal, art and history lovers.


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Marv Basham



Reptile Gardens just lost its last link to the past, Marv Basham (1917-2011). Until yesterday, Marv was the last person still around who was here on opening day in June of 1937. He had helped build our original buildings and did a lot of other things back in the day when the crew consisted of just a handful of people and everyone did whatever was needed.


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Animal conservation key focus at Reptile Gardens

Animal appreciation starts with education.


Rapid City, S.D. — Education through entertainment is at the center of Reptile Gardens' animal conservation efforts.


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Idea Wild to Accept Donation from Reptile Gardens

Rapid City, S.D. — Every year Reptile Gardens donates to numerous charities and conservation efforts. This summer, with the help of a little Rook named Zorro, the European relative of Crows and Ravens, Reptile Gardens raised over $8,000 to benefit Idea Wild, who will be present at Reptile Gardens to accept their donation on October 4th.


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Reptile Gardens' website goes mobile

Rapid City, S.D. — Reptile Gardens wants to reach customers where they're at—their mobile devices.

Over 93 percent of adults in the United States own a cell phone and the demand for mobile access to Internet has skyrocketed. Twenty percent of households are mobile-only, and 11 percent of mobile phone owners make purchases through their phones. By January 2012, 50 percent of all cellular phones will be smartphones.


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Methuselah Memorial established at Reptile Gardens

Methuselah brought joy to many across the world.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 13, 2011—Rapid City, S.D.—Though the shock of Methuselah's death is still present, the team at Reptile Gardens is looking to the future. Plans are underway to establish a memorial for the beloved mascot and hopefully raise enough funds to bring another Galapagos tortoise to the reptile park.

Named after the Biblical figure, Methuselah, who was recorded as the oldest person whose age, 969 years, is mentioned in the Hebrew book of Genesis, the Galapagos Tortoise has been recognized as the oldest creature to have lived in the state of South Dakota.


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Methuselah — Reptile Gardens' Beloved Mascot for 56 years.

Methuselah in 1970


On Sunday 9 July 2011 we were all saddened by the loss of our old friend and long-time animal resident, Methuselah the giant Galapagos Tortoise.

Methuselah arrived at Reptile Gardens in December of 1954 from the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, South America. He was flown to Miami and then transported by train to Rapid City. Thankfully, the crews of the rail freight company took good care of him, keeping him warm as he traveled from Florida to South Dakota in the dead of winter. He arrived in good health and adapted to life in South Dakota quite well. He joined a growing herd of giant tortoises already at the Reptile Gardens. The herd was made up of both Galapagos tortoises and Aldabra tortoises from the Seychelles Islands off the coast of Madagascar.


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75 YEARS AND GOING STRONG! CALLING ALL FORMER & CURRENT REPTILE GARDENS STAFF MEMBERS

Ray Pawley in his younger days.

Next year, 2012, Reptile Gardens will be celebrating its 75th anniversary. You know what that means? We are planning a fun staff reunion to celebrate this momentous anniversary.



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Practical Jokes at Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens' founder Earl Brockelsby (1916-1993) was notorious for his elaborate & sometimes nasty practical jokes. Among them were:


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Methuselah received 100 pounds of watermelon from The Perse Girls Junior School as a birthday gift.

RAPID CITY — Reptile Gardens' late giant tortoise Methuselah's last birthday gift was also his most special. The Galapagos tortoise generally received watermelon on his birthdays — but this year, the watermelon traveled all the way from the United Kingdom.


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South Dakota's oldest living resident about to celebrate 130th birthday in June

Methuselah has seen a lot in the last 130 years!


May 20, 2011—Rapid City, S.D.—It will be a birthday celebration like no other. In fact, extensive planning and preparation is already underway. The guest list is unlimited and the fanfare will include free cake and pop for kids, prizes and giveaways, as well as a coloring contest. The owners and staff at Reptile Gardens in Rapid City are throwing this extravagant event in honor of the state's oldest living resident—Methuselah, a 129-year-old Galapagos tortoise.

Methuselah was born in 1881 in the Galapagos Islands. Earl Brockelsby, Reptile Gardens founder, brought the giant tortoise to South Dakota in 1956. Since then, the 600 pound Methuselah has become one of the most popular attractions at the reptile conservatory.

Public Relations Director for Reptile Gardens, John Brockelsby, explains the added significance of the creature's birthday celebration: "Both Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises are threatened with extinction in the wild. They have the potential to live more than 150 years, but not many in the wild ever have the chance—commercial expansion, agriculture, and predators have really affected the tortoises' life spans."

Reptile Gardens invites visitors to tour their Giant Tortoise Yard and meet the gentle creatures as a way to raise awareness and support for the protection of the endangered animals. The slow-moving giant tortoises, each with a uniquely colored and patterned shell, pose with children and adults for photographs in the petting area. Guests are able to experience the docile nature of these toothless, vegetarian giants.

Even though Methuselah probably won't be sharing any of his birthday treat—a giant watermelon—with Reptile Gardens visitors, guests can enjoy free cake and pop on Saturday, June 11th and Sunday, June12th. Prizes will be dispensed also, including fun prizes for coloring contest winners. Coloring sheets will be available at all Family Thrift Center locations in Rapid City.

With more than 200 species of reptiles at the park, families and visitors of all ages are guaranteed to have an exciting, and educational, experience. In addition to the large crowd of exotic residents, Reptile Gardens is home to Cheyenne, a majestic Bald Eagle, and a coterie of Prairie Dogs. Botanical-enthusiasts will enjoy strolling through the gardens—full of colorful flowers and lush vegetation like ornamental trees, tropical plants, orchids, and bromeliads.

To learn more about Reptile Gardens' hours, admission costs, and Season Pass specials, call (605) 342-5873 or (800) 335-0275 or visit their website at www.reptilegardens.com.

About Reptile Gardens

Founded in 1937, Reptile Gardens is a reptile park located in Rapid City, South Dakota. Their mission is to educate the public on important environmental issues, while working closely with many major zoos worldwide to promote species survival. Housing a large variety of unique reptiles, and exotic plants, this reptile zoo is actively involved within the local community and provides wildlife education for people of all ages.

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Reptile Gardens kicks off spring season with national exposure

Categories: General
Terry Phillip, venomous snake expert at Reptile Gardens, provided information about the Egyptian cobra for a late March interview with CNN



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Featured Reptile of the Week

Featured reptile of the week: the Fiji Iguana. Good work everyone, my 'Who Am I' post from the other day is indeed a Fiji Iguana. It is, in fact, a hybrid Banded/Crested Fiji Iguana and is on loan to us from the San Diego Zoo - which is working closely with the Finjian government on conservation of these critically endangered lizards. The main threat to these lizards is habitat destruction, much of it from goats released on their islands.


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Back When the Sky Dome was New

David, Jada, Clint and the rest of the staff have been really busy in the Sky Dome since we closed for the season. They have done a lot of work on the mezzanine level and even more in the Safari Room, painting, planting new plants, moving cacti, and more.

With all this work going on in the Dome I was reminded of when it was built and of the big tree that is still the centerpiece. This is an article that ran in the Rapid City Journal in 1964.


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Rocks, Fossils, Jewelry, and New Guinea Art!

Categories: General
Next week, we are headed to the world's largest gem and mineral show in Tucson, Arizona to seek out and buy rare and beautiful rocks, fossils, minerals and who knows what else for our 2011 season. We never know what we will find but there are always new and exciting things offered by the several thousand vendors who come to the show from all over the world.


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Hey, Where's Your Top 10 Most Deadly Snakes List?

Rhinoceros Viper


For many years we had an immensely popular "Top Ten Most Venomous Snakes" list posted here at the Reptile Gardens and, subsequently, on our web site. Many of you remember this list and have asked about it. We get thousands of web search hits to our site every year looking for just such a list.


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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!