Reptile Gardens enjoying “record year”, planning for new expansion

Reptile Gardens has seen record visitor numbers in every month since March.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Business is booming at Reptile Gardens.

“We’ve been in business for 84 years and we’ve never seen crowds like this,” said John Brockelsby, the Public Relations Director with Reptile Gardens. 

It’s literally been a record year.

This all came before July – typically the business’ busiest month of the year, not to mention the early crowd that caught the gardens .

During the month of June, the zoo saw a 20 percent increase compared to a normal year, non-pandemic riddled.

“Comparing against a good years, yeah, probably at least 20 percent and some of our figures like for may and that, the percentage was 50 to 60 percent, but of course, we’re not near as busy then, so we can handle it,” Brockelsby said. “We can handle a 100 percent in may, we can’t in June.”

That crowd could expand – especially with a new one to three million dollar expansion that will be broken into two or three phases.

This expansion is the first in more than a decade, and will increase the size of Reptile Gardens by 10 to 15 percent.

Plans for the space include a new tortoise enclosure, pond and arena for alligator feeding, and the next phases will include walkways above those alligators and a greenhouse for butterflies.

 “We’re real excited about it,” Brockelsby said. “Phase two and phase three, which are super exciting, also but those are probably a few years down the line.”

Reptile Gardens is currently working with construction companies and hopes to start construction in the fall with the first part of the expansion opening on memorial day next year.

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