Katherine Schliep Larson

Katherine Schliep Larson

“It takes lots and lots of patience… and more time than you think.”

Position: Lead Bird Keeper

Responsibilities: Various aspects of avian care, including training, enrichment, and bird painting

Her first pet was a cow. Katherine spent many years caring for and showing livestock on her family’s farm in Minnesota. Since then, she has earned a degree in Animal Science and worked with all manner of creatures like lemurs, jaguars, and vultures – but she still has a soft spot for chickens, or at least, she really seems to enjoy putting on an old chicken mask and running across stage in it ever so often.

Katherine originally started as a dome guide. She was quickly poached by the bird department. You can find her at the bird show, but if you’re really lucky, you’ll encounter her on the grounds when she’s giving a keeper talk. Her passion for outdoor education really shows when she is talking one-on-one with young visitors about all the marvelous creatures that fill the sky.

Patience and dedication have made her one of our best animal trainers. She was instrumental in getting Moche the macaw to paint with sponges, long after the rest of the trainers had given up hope. All of the parrots look forward to days when Katherine is making the daily toys – her creations from newspaper, toilet paper rolls, and egg cartons are something to behold. She once made a remarkable convertible car, complete with passengers, out of a cereal box. Bubba the military macaw destroyed it with gusto.


Things to know about Katherine

  1. Outside of work, she enjoys movie nights, hiking, and time with friends and family.
  2. She has earned the nickname “Stormbringer” because thunderstorms always seem to brew when she is getting a show ready.
  3. The weirdest thing she has done while working at Reptile Gardens is set up fake people (made of shovels and raincoats) on the bird stage to act as “wedding guests” to help a dove rehearse for a flight in a wedding.
  4. Her favorite bird is a tie between Moche the Blue and Gold Macaw, and Primrose the pheasant.


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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 Funtier Town

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing, go on a 3D safari, or test your aim at the shooting gallery! Our very own old west ghost town has 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!