Scales & Tales

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 http://www.facebook.com/reptilegardens 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: http://www.denverpost.com/travel/ci_20859005/south-dakotas-black-hills-offer-inexpensive-family-friendly .

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 http://www.reptilegardens.com/attractions/ .

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

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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: http://reptilegardens.com.

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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 http://www.reptilegardens.com/attractions/gator-arena.php. Try to catch all of these fun and educational shows on your next visit to the Black Hills reptile zoo, Reptile Gardens.

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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: http://reptilegardens.com.

 

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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 http://www.reptilegardens.com/visit/  to see our summer season rates.

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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: http://reptilegardens.com.

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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 http://www.reptilegardens.com/attractions/.

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.

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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: http://reptilegardens.com.

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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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Reptile Gardens celebrates the Year of the Dragon

Meet our very own Komodo Dragon. In Chinese culture, a dragon represents ambition and dominance.

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.

Reptile Garden’s is very proud of our own Komodo Dragon. As a reptile zoo, we 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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Reptile Gardens Mourns the Loss of Maude Brockelsby

Maude Brockelsby, wife of Reptile Gardens founder Earl Brockelsby, died on 11 December 2011 at the age of 95.

Maude (Wagner) Brockelsby was born Nov. 2, 1916, in Lake Andes, S.D., the granddaughter of immigrants from Germany and Ireland.  Her family lived in the Lake Andes area until 1929 when they moved to Wood, S.D.  These were the dust-bowl days of the Great Depression, and times were hard – Maude often said she didn’t like to think about the “old days”!

After graduating from Wood High School, Maude moved to Rapid City where she met an ambitious young entrepreneur named Earl Brockelsby who, in 1937, had the crazy idea of starting a tourist attraction showcasing reptiles. Maude and Earl were married in 1940.

In the early days of the Reptile Gardens, Maude made rockwork souvenirs, but she played an important part in the success of the business in another way.  After Earl returned from World War II, he was spread thin by the several very different businesses he owned. It was Maude who encouraged him to devote his energies to the Reptile Gardens.  Earl always gave her credit for helping him to focus his efforts on that business, which became one of the leading tourist attractions in the Midwest.

Maude was known, to all who knew her, for her kindness and generosity. She loved to take care of her large extended family. Her chocolate chip cookies were arguably the best ever. For many years, Maude served as the “Goodwill Ambassador” for the Reptile Gardens. Up until the end she was always interested in how things were going at the Reptile Gardens and never failed to ask how business was when any one of us stopped for a visit.

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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.

The unusual gifts are true collector’s items. They have been hand picked by Reptile Gardens’ CEO, Joe Maierhauser, and brought back to share with South Dakotans.

You can find interesting pieces like New Guinea tribal masks, primitive weapons and colorful collages filled with farmed butterfly specimens. How about a stunning large photograph taken in New Guinea by Joe Maierhauser? All these items would be a wonderful addition to any art collection. They could also be used to decorate any wall in your house.

More traditional gifts are also available. There is an entire collection of intricate and beautiful hand woven scarves. These fashionable scarves come in every shade and color and will keep you warm all winter long. There is a large assortment of beads for the beader on your list; or beautiful and collectible fossils and mineral specimens.

The gift shop has many other various items like toys, stuffed animals, books and apparel that children love. The books are educational and fun to read.

Some of our gifts are available online. To view our full inventory and find your perfect holiday gift, stop by Reptile Gardens – they are located just south of Rapid City on Hwy. 16.

The park is closed for winter hours. However, the gift shop will remain open through Christmas for shoppers who need to take care of their last minute purchases. The new holiday hours are daily from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

You can view our online offerings at www.reptilegardens.com/gift-store/  Or our online selection of New Guinea art at either www.jungleoutpost.com  or www.newguineaart.com

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