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 6 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




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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