Matt Plank

“I’m working with all of the animals I saw on TV as a kid. I’m getting to do everything I saw as a kid, and I’m getting to do it out here.”

Position: Assistant Curator

Responsibilities: Help with the daily care of all animals, feed and clean up and monitor them behind the scenes

Matt grew up fascinated by animals and each summer begging his mom to bring him out to Reptile Gardens to look at the animals. While coming out to Reptile Gardens and watching shows on TV, he realized this was his dream job, and lucky for him, he was able to land that dream job.

When he finished his freshman year in college, he came out to Reptile Gardens and started working in the café in 2002. Every summer he came out to work in the café and by August of 2013, he was hired full time. In 2006 he began helping with alligator and snake shows while he went to school for Conservation and Biology at Arizona State.

Most memorable experience:

It’s safe to say that an alligator show gone array will usually lead to being the most memorable experience while working at Reptile Gardens:

“I had been in the hospital a couple of times. I just did it wrong to jump on [the alligator] and he moved sideways and flipped me off and I landed next to him and he didn’t quite grab me but kind of skidded across my arm. And I didn’t know at first, I was just scared. So I stood up and turned around and the crowd was screaming and there was blood everywhere and so I went to the hospital.”

Things to know about Matt:

1. He usually wants to be in the woods, so he enjoys fly fishing and camping and hiking whenever he can.
2. He has one dog, a mutt named Banji.
3. The coolest place he’s ever traveled to is Madrid and he even traveled to the Florida Keys where he caught a shark while fishing.



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!