Reptile Gardens is an animal park located in Rapid City, South Dakota. Its mission is "To educate the public on important environmental issues, while working closely with many major zoos worldwide to promote species survival". Housing a large variety of unique reptiles, and exotic plants, Reptile Gardens is a Black Hills attraction on the road to Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This reptile zoo in Rapid City, South Dakota represents strong community involvement and wildlife education for people of all ages.
Founded by 21-year-old reptile enthusiast Earl Brockelsby, this family-oriented South Dakota attraction began as a one-man-show and officially opened its doors on June 3, 1937.
Intrigued by the fear and interest people expressed when faced with a snake, Earl set up a small display of snakes, charging people to see them. After an initially successful dive into the tourism industry, Earl and the staff at Reptile Gardens saw some difficult times in the 1940s. Regaining momentum after WWII, the 1950s saw an increase in visitation to the Black Hills. Due to widening and relocation of the highway, a new location and major expansion, including the Sky Dome, were completed in 1965.
Although a fire in 1976 destroyed the Sky Dome, and a flood in 1977 caused water damage throughout the facility, the Reptile Gardens is still a family-owned and -operated business that houses more species of reptiles than any other zoo or park in the world......