Kathy Maguire

"My grandsons think I’m the bomb because I get to work with the creepy crawlies."

Position: Curator of Amphibians & Bugs

Responsibilities: Caring for a diverse collection of amphibians and invertebrates-and some reptiles too.

A highly specialized observer of animal behaviors and habits, Kathy is able to detect subtle changes in each of her creature’s physical or psychological conditions and take the proper response to maintain a healthy collection. Her average day includes cleaning and maintaining enclosures and, of course, feeding the animals. She also answers many phone calls from people who have questions about their pet lizards and turtles, as well as those who have found a scary spider in their house and want to talk to the “Bug Lady.”

In recent years, she has become active in conservation, breeding, and research projects, providing Reptile Gardens with important information to help preserve threatened species. She was one of the first to successfully breed Amazon Milk Frogs in captivity.

In the beginning…

Originally hired as a temporary, part-time show person at the Trained Animal Show, Kathy soon began helping the head animal trainer, Jim Campbell, train a few chickens to play baseball. She laughs and says of the experience,

“As time passed, I realized I was the one being trained!”

Ultimately she became the trainer when Jim retired.

“I've trained chickens, cows, goats, rabbits, ducks and pigs - it's pretty common at Reptile Gardens to be asked to work in different areas. I have also worked at the miniature horse barn giving rides, helped in the gift shop, and even worked a summer in the Green Parrot Café, where I got the title of Maitre d' - a pretty fancy title for someone who cleans the ice-cream machine and mops floors!”

After her adventures with mammals and the kitchen, Kathy started working in the Reptile Department with former curator Don Middaugh and former Head Curator Ken Earnest, helping with the collection and performing Snake Shows, and later taking on the responsibilities of the Amphibians and Invertebrates.


Things to know about Kathy

  1. She has 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
  2. Her daughter worked at Reptile Gardens for a summer.
  3. She likes Chameleons.
  4. When not at the Gardens, she loves to camp, fish, relax, and hang out with friends and her family.
  5. If she could travel anywhere, she would love to go to Ireland and Australia.



Things To Do

Main Exhibits




Animals Facts



Native to South Dakota


Botanical Gardens


About Us

Privacy Policy

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!