Reptile Gardens renews world record

By Rosemary McCoy

South Dakota often gets attention for its low unemployment rate or favorable business climate, but this No. 1 ranking is not for the squeamish.

Reptile Gardens has renewed its title as the world’s largest reptile zoo.

The Black Hills tourist attraction was recertified for the title in the 2018 edition of Guinness World Records. It first claimed the honor in 2014 with more than 200 reptilian species.

As of February 28, 2017, the attraction near Rapid City housed more than 225 species and subspecies – more than any other zoo or wildlife park, according to Guinness.

“After 80 years of striving to be the best at what we do, it is indeed very gratifying to get this major recognition for the second time,” said Joe Maierhauser, president and CEO. “It certainly lends us credibility not only in regards to how our visitors see us but also with the international zoo community. We work with zoos around the U.S. and the world to share not only animals but to also offer our decades of experience to contribute to the knowledge base regarding care, housing and safe handling techniques.”

The recently published book includes a two-page spread with photographs of staff members holding snakes, lizards and other reptiles. The text includes information on Reptile Gardens’ honor and on other reptile record-holders, such as the fastest crocodile on land: Crocodylus johnstoni. The native Australian freshwater croc can reach 10.56 mph.

“The staff really felt honored and, as you can see on their faces, enjoyed being involved in the photo shoot for the Guinness book,” Maierhauser said. “Not only was our reptile staff involved, the Guinness people included bird staff, gift shop staff, other department supervisors and even our personnel director in the shoot.”

Reptile Gardens also received recognition earlier this summer from USA Today readers as the state’s best attraction.

Earl Brockelsby started Reptile Gardens in 1937 with a sack of rattlesnakes. Members of his family continue to run it, but now, with reptiles from around the world, it’s a lot more than a few indigenous snakes.

After 80 years, Reptile Gardens keeps growing

 

 

 

 

 

Reptile Gardens renews world record

South Dakota often gets attention for its low unemployment rate or favorable business climate, but this No. 1 ranking is not for the squeamish.

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