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




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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