Scales & Tales

Reduced Admission begins with the Fall Season at Reptile Gardens

Autumn is a great time of year from locals to visit Reptile Gardens.

As summer comes to an end, Reptile Gardens would like to invite friends and families to take advantage of their reduced fall season rates.

Admission rates at Reptile Gardens will be reduced starting on September 4 and will stay at the reduced rate until October 31. Reptile Gardens will continue to be open seven days a week, but will be starting its fall hours of 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m as of September 4.

Reptile Garden’s CEO, Joe Maierhauser, suggests that fall is the ideal time for local residents to visit.

“With the weather cooling down, now is the perfect time to wander around the grounds and enjoy the shows,” Maierhauser said. “Especially for local residents, because the park will not be as busy as during the tourist season.”

Reptile Gardens offers visitors and Rapid City residents one of the largest collection of reptiles, amphibians and bugs in the world. With animals ranging from a 1250 pound saltwater crocodile to an 8-feet long Komodo dragon, Reptile Gardens provides visitors with the opportunity to learn and explore with hundreds of species first hand.

See the reduced fall season rates and start planning your visit to Reptile Gardens.

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Here We Go Again! Another Wild Snake Story

These photos have been circulating for several years now. And, as usual, each time they make the rounds of emails the story gets wilder and wilder and more utterly ridiculous. So, let’s just hammer this one point by point. Please pass this post on to all your friends who sent you this photo.


1. This isn’t in Arizona, it is in St John’s county Florida, says so right on the sheriff’s car! Tuscan Villa Court (on the street sign) is in St Augustine, St John’s County, Florida. That took me 30 seconds on Google Maps to determine.

2. They did get one thing right it is indeed an Eastern Diamondback. But Eastern Diamondbacks are not found in Arizona anyway, they are found….in Florida.

3. It is nowhere near 15 feet long, perspective, perspective, perspective. And get real – could one guy actually hold up a 170 pound (or even a 50 pound) anything on a long aluminum stick the size of a broomstick? Could you lift one of your friends of similar weight with that stick, and then not have it bend in half? No, of course not. This nice big diamondback looks to be around 6 feet long and weighed probably around 10 pounds. Big, but nothing record-setting.

I had to throw in this forced perspective photo we made here last time I ran one of these stories

Forced perspective!

Given the actual facts of this snake’s size I realize the other points of the story become totally irrelevant. But, let’s mention them anyway, just for fun:

4. A bite from this snake could possibly kill ONE person but that isn’t even likely, especially with antivenom.

5. This snake could not swallow a 2 year-old child or pretty much any pet except your pet guinea pig.

6. Maximum striking distance would indeed be around 2 feet because this is a slightly above average snake.

7. The knife in one of the photos, not shown here, is actually just a normal pocketknife.

Is a large Diamondback a dangerous snake? Absolutely. Let’s just not throw logic out the window when looking at such photos

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Reptile Gardens Celebrates 75 Anniversary with Employee Reunion

Happy 75th Anniversary Reptile Gardens!

RAPID CITY, SD – Reptile Gardens is thrilled to announce that this year is their 75 year anniversary as one of the Black Hills most popular attractions.

Family owned and operated since 1937, this Rapid City attraction provides excellent visitor entertainment for a variety of ages. From the haven of beautiful flowers and vegetation to the exotic and extraordinary collection of amphibians, reptiles, bugs and birds, Reptile Gardens encourages visitors to discover and meet species of plants and animals from around the world.

As part of their anniversary celebration, the reptile park will be hosting an employee reunion on June 30 at the Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn in Rapid City. All current employees as well as former staff members are invited to attend the reunion, which will include food, drinks and a fun-filled evening with the entire crew at Reptile Gardens.

For those employees who are traveling a long distance, Reptile Gardens has reserved a block of rooms at the Holiday Inn at a special rate and has requested that guests of the event RSVP by June 27 to Virginia at Reptile Gardens.

To reserve your attendance for the anniversary event contact or call (605) 342-5873 for more information.


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Methuselah Memorial to be held on July 10, 2012

Reptile Gardens says goodbye to 130 yr old Methuselah.

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The memorial for Methuselah, a beloved mascot of Reptile Gardens in Rapid City South Dakota, will be held on July 10, 2012 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Reptile Gardens.

Methuselah, a giant Galapagos tortoise who weighed over 500 pounds, passed away July 10, 2011, having just celebrated his 130th birthday on June 12. As a tribute to the much-loved tortoise, a life-cast bronze statue will be unveiled at 10:30 a.m. during the memorial.

“Methuselah was here since 1954,” said Johnny Brockelsby, public relations director of Reptile Gardens. “He will be deeply missed by everyone here at Reptile Gardens and visitors from around the world.”

In addition to the life-sized statue, a children’s playground has been created at Reptile Gardens in memory of Methuselah.

“Children really loved Methuselah,” says Brockelsby. “What better way to honor that friendship than with an area dedicated to the children visiting the park.”

If you would like to share a memory of Methuselah, please submit a photo or story on our Facebook wall at or send to:

John Brockelsby
Reptile Gardens
Box 620
Rapid City, SD  57709

Please include name, address, and contact information on all materials submitted.

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Reptile Gardens offers a Rapid City attraction that parents love as much as kids

Smile and say gator!

Rapid City, S.D. – Family vacations are often focused on children.

Although adults receive a well deserved break from everyday stress and work, children usually serve as the center of attention during a family trip. However, not all family vacation destinations differentiate the two. Reptile Gardens in Rapid City, SD, is a Black Hills destination that has fun attractions for the entire family- adults included.

With both the “Reptile” and the “Garden” characteristics of its name, the local animal park encompasses exciting attractions that will fascinate not only those looking for a sanctuary of beautiful flowers, flourishing vegetation, trees, tropical plants, orchids, and bromeliads but also those who want to discover a world of exotic amphibians, bugs, and reptiles.

While guests of the renowned reptile park risk running into an occasional friendly lizard in the Sky Dome or encountering a giant yet welcoming tortoise, they can also obtain a unique education about the many species of animals within Reptile Gardens. Guests of all ages can enjoy learning about the assorted types of animals, from both an instructive and humorous point of view. Greet and meet birds from around the world, receive training on how to handle snake encounters, and watch a fearless demonstration of just what alligators and crocodiles can do.

Recently featured in the Denver Post as a family friendly vacation destination, Reptile Gardens gives both children and adults the chance to unwind and relax while still learning something new on their vacation and have a lot of fun while doing it. To view the full article featured in the Denver Post visit: .

Offering younger guests the chance to burn off some of their liveliness in Bewitched Village, a place where they can sluice for gemstones and arrowheads or experience a black light 3D safari with its notorious spinning black hole, or play at the new fun Methuselah’s Playground. Other guests have the opportunity to view a giant Komodo Dragon or a 16-foot Giant Saltwater Crocodile. Reptile Gardens provides exhilarating entertainment for all ages. To see a complete list of attractions at this Rapid City destination, go to .

Whether families are in search of amusement for children or activities for adults, Reptile Gardens is a destination to visit on your family vacation.


About Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens maintains one of the world’s finest collections of reptiles. To learn more about Reptile Gardens’ employment opportunities, hours, admission costs and season pass specials, call (605) 342-5873 or visit their website:

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Who Let the Crocodiles Out at Reptile Gardens?

Rapid City, S.D. – The unofficial start of the tourist season has begun in the Black Hills! At Reptile Gardens, this is signified by the start of the daily Gator Shows.

They wait until late May to start these shows because crocodiles are cold blooded, or ectothermic, absorbing heat from their environment. The colder the environment, the slower and sleepier reptiles become. A gator show would not be very exciting in the cold South Dakota months! However, now that warmer temperatures are (hopefully) here to stay for the summer, the gators and their wranglers will be entertaining daily. In the warmer months the alligators and crocodiles can be quite characters, and dangerous too.

Reptiles Gardens CEO, Joe Maierhauser says that, “It is not uncommon for crocodiles to bask on the river banks, mouth wide open. That is not an aggressive posture, but a way to cool off. And in Africa, there are birds that climb into a croc’s mouth and clean their teeth!”

Another interesting fact is that a particular group of Crocodiles in the wild regularly eat only once a year when the wildebeest migrate through their section of the river. Lucky for us, the gator wrestlers at Reptile Gardens feed our reptilian friends at every performance. You can see the feeding frenzy – and learn many more interesting facts on these creatures during a Gator Show.

So it seems that Reptile Gardens has indeed let the crocs out! A full schedule of shows can be found at Try to catch all of these fun and educational shows on your next visit to the Black Hills reptile zoo, Reptile Gardens.


About Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens maintains one of the world’s finest collections of reptiles. To learn more about Reptile Gardens’ employment opportunities, hours, admission costs and season pass specials, call (605) 342-5873 or visit their website:


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Summer season begins at Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens is ready for a busy summer!

Rapid City, S.D. – Spring is almost over and with the start of summer comes new hours and plenty of new things to look at.

The summer season brings the start of new hours for Reptile Gardens. Beginning on May 25, the park will be open full hours of 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. During this time all three shows will be running, giving visitors the chance to observe alligators and crocodiles, a snake demonstration, and birds from around the world.

Home to the world’s largest collection of retiles, this year Reptile Gardens is celebrating its 75th year as one of the Black Hills most popular attractions. The park not only features rare and exotic reptiles, but also showcases a variety of flowers and flowerbeds including orchids and bromeliads.

Reptile Garden’s CEO, Joe Maierhauser, explains how they are getting Reptile Gardens ready for the summer season.

“We will be putting tens of thousands of flowering plants in the ground in the next few weeks,” Maierhauser said. “The garden crew is going to be very busy putting each plant in one at a time while still keeping the lawns mowed and planting lots of new trees and bushes.”

Another new accessory to the park, the Methuselah’s Memorial Playground, has already seen success with children visiting. “The kids are really enjoying it and there are a few more finishing touches to complete over the next couple of weeks,” Maierhauser said. A life-sized bronze statue of Methuselah, the giant tortoise, will complete the area. The bronze statue is set to be unveiled on the anniversary of Methuselah’s death, July 10.

Whether you’re an out of town visitor or a Rapid City resident, Reptile Gardens has something for you to explore and enjoy. Visit our website at  to see our summer season rates.


About Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens maintains one of the world’s finest collections of reptiles. To learn more about Reptile Gardens’ employment opportunities, hours, admission costs and season pass specials, call (605) 342-5873 or visit their website:

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Celebrate Mother’s Day with Reptile Gardens in Rapid City

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we’re all about celebrating these wonderful women at Reptile Gardens. On May 13, Mother’s Day, we will be giving all moms free admission with the donation of two cans of food for the KOTA Care and Share drive.

“The weather is supposed to be beautiful, so spend the day at this great Black Hills family attraction. Soak in the lush landscapes as you get an up-close encounter with our reptiles, bugs and amphibians,” said Reptile Gardens’ CEO Joe Maierhauser.

Let mom pick between the gator, snake or bird show. These unique, educational and entertaining shows are sure to please the whole family. For more information about Reptile Gardens’ attractions, visit

Instead of giving mom a bouquet of flowers, pay a visit to our Safari Room in our three-story Sky Dome that makes us a famous Black Hills attraction. Here, mom will be able to check out tropical plants and flowers from all over the world. She will get new ideas for her garden when she views our beautiful orchids, caladiums, and cacti.

Get out your cameras and pose with mom with our giant Aldabra tortoises, Quazi and Tank. It’s a rare chance to encounter this endangered species, so you definitely won’t want to miss them.

Finish off the afternoon by taking mom out to eat at our Green Parrot Café or Cola Cabana. Grab a refreshment and take a stroll through our Tortuga Falls. Moms need a day of relaxation and she’ll love listening to the calming sounds of our waterfalls.

Before you head out, get mom a present at our gift shop. From beautiful rocks, to books, to stuff animals of our favorite residents, you’ll be sure to find the perfect souvenir to commemorate the fun day you spent with mom.

All mom really wants to do is spend a fun day with the people she loves most, so bring in two cans of food for the Kota Care and Share drive and treat mom to a fun day of adventure and relaxation at Reptile Gardens.


About Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens maintains one of the world’s finest collections of reptiles. To learn more about Reptile Gardens’ employment opportunities, hours, admission costs and season pass specials, call (605) 342-5873 or visit their website:

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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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Reptile Gardens looks to hire new summer employees

Rapid City, S.D. – If you are looking for a summer job that will really put an exclamation point on your resume, look no further than Reptile Gardens.

Known for their world class collection of reptiles, bugs and amphibians, Reptile Gardens is also a great place to gain experience and launch your career in zoology or veterinary science.

“If you want a career in the zoo world, Reptile Gardens is a good place to start,” said Reptile Gardens’ CEO, Joe Maierhauser.

Maierhauser said they have had several past employees go on to land wonderful jobs in related industries. For example, one former employee went on to work with a famous zoologist at the Lincoln Park zoo in Chicago before eventually landing a job as curator of reptiles at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.

Alligator wrestling at Reptile GardensNot all past employees went into zoology careers. One former alligator wrester later went on to become a federal judge.

“You really don’t need to be in a certain career field or have a particular major in school to work here,” Maierhauser said. “We are looking for friendly, gregarious people.”

He jokingly admits that putting the job title “Alligator Wrestler” on your resume will at the very least get you an interview for any job.

The summer season runs from May 27 through Sept. 5. All job openings will be filled long before the summer season starts so turn in your application and resume promptly for a chance to work with the brightest and best animal staff in the Black Hills.

To enquire about available positions call the Reptile Gardens office Mon-Friday at 605-342-5873 or visit the employment page on our website.

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