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.


Things To Do

Main Exhibits




Animal Facts



Native to South Dakota


Botanical Gardens


About Us

Dog Policy

We love all animals, wild and domesticated. Unfortunately due to a high number of recent incidents with dogs, our insurance company has advised us that we can no longer allow dogs, or other personal pets, on the Reptile Gardens grounds. ADA approved service dogs are, of course, allowed although there are three areas where they are not allowed for their safety and the safety of our animals. We do offer a shaded grassy area adjacent to our parking lot for walking your dog. We only ask that your pet be leashed and attended to at all times. You are welcome to come and go from the park as often as you like to tend to your dog. For more information, visit our FAQ Page


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