Virginia Garrigan

"There’s just something about this place that makes people want to stay."

Position: Human Relations Director

Responsibilities: Deals with lots of different personalities and makes things work.

With a strong focus on her staff and their needs, Virginia organizes and refines the Reptile Gardens team. She develops and manages employment programs, job evaluations, benefits, and promotions. She also implements plans for finding applicants to fill their summer season job openings.

As far as the year-round, full time positions, she smiles and says, “Full time positions are easy, we have a strong policy for hiring from within. Many kids will start working at the Gardens at age 15 and work here all the way through college. Some even come back as full time staff members.”

Virginia also conducts interviews and uses her acute sense of placement to match employees to the proper jobs. She also uses motivation to encourage positive staff performance. She says,

“An average employee may turn into an outstanding performer if they’re motivated correctly; the key is learning each person’s trigger.”

So, what’s Virginia’s story?

Virginia began as a Bumper Girl at age 13. She has also worked in the snack bar, the Giant Tortoise Yard, managed the former Bewitched Village Show, raised mini horses, and taken care of the lizards and parrots. She has also presented Snake Shows on occasion, while working with the Reptile Department.

“When I worked in the Reptile Department I was helping get the King Cobra out of his enclosure. There were two doors in the exhibit, but one was accidentally left open, so when I opened the one door he came flying out the other door and landed on the floor at our feet!”

Virginia’s pretty much done it all except Gator Show, which she has no intention of taking on.

“Leave it to the boys!”


Things to know about Virginia

  1. She is adamant about teaching young staff members to have respect for the job.
  2. Both of her daughters worked at Reptile Gardens through their high school years.
  3. Outside of work, Virginia enjoys camping, taking road trips with her friends, spending time with her family and jeeping in the hills.
  4. Virginia is an avid fisherwoman.
  5. Favorite animal: Parrots.



Things To Do

Main Exhibits




Animals Facts



Native to South Dakota


Botanical Gardens


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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!