Reptile Gardens located 6 miles south of Rapid City in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota is having a birthday!

KSFY TV is reporting one of South Dakota's favorite tourist destinations is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2017.

For 80 years now, people from all over the world have searched out Reptile Gardens to get an up-close-and-personal view of their snakes, gators, exotic birds, giant tortoises, frogs, lizards and other exotic animals.

A lot has changed over the years at Reptile Gardens since they first opened their doors to the public in 1937.

John Brockelsby a public relations representative with Reptile Gardens told KSFY TV, "When my father opened up Reptile Gardens in 1937, he basically dug a great big pit and caught animals indigenous to South Dakota. Now, here we are 80 years later with over 200 species of reptiles on display."

In 2014 Reptile Gardens was even given the prestigious honor of being named the World's Largest Reptile Zoo according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Anyone familiar with Reptile Gardens already knows they play home to one of the most recognizable buildings in the entire Black Hills, the Skydome.

The famous Skydome is the home of the legendary Reptile Gardens Safari Room. A room filled full of beautiful orchids, bromeliads, caladiums, and other tropical plants from all around the globe from places like Central America, South America, Africa, and China.

Guests visit the Reptile Gardens Safari Room daily to come face to face with sculptures from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, and to encounter all the free-roaming lizard and frog friends that can be spotted wandering around.

I fondly remember my trip to Reptile Gardens a few years back for other iconic attractions like; the Rattlesnake Gulch, their black-tailed Prairie Dog Town, and Methuselah's Playground.

Methuselah, of course, was the giant 600-pound Galapagos Tortoise, the former mascot and long-time resident of Reptile Gardens until July of 2011. That's the year when he sadly passed away at the age of a 130. His memory lives on at the outdoor playground for kids at Reptile Gardens.

If you're looking for a fun filled family adventure the next time you make a stop in the Black Hills, give Reptile Gardens a shot. They're located south of Rapid City on Highway 16 on the way to Crazy Horse.

Source: KSFY TV

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