Reptile Gardens Kicks Off Spring Season with National Exposure

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Before opening its doors April 1, Reptile Gardens' venomous snake expert Terry Phillip enjoyed time in the spotlight. CNN interviewed him about an escaped Egyptian cobra from New York's Bronx Zoo.

Venomous snake expert Terry Phillip from Reptile Gardens provided insight into the Egyptian cobra for a late March interview with CNN.

Terry Phillip, venomous snake expert at Reptile Gardens, provided information about the Egyptian cobra for a late March interview with CNN.

"With Terry’s 15 years of experience at Reptile Gardens working with virtually all of the world’s deadliest snake species, he certainly qualifies as an expert on venomous snakes." -- Joe Maierhauser, Reptile Gardens’ president and CEO

Family attraction Reptile Gardens launched its spring season with a CNN spot featuring its resident venomous snake expert, Terry Phillip.

When a deadly Egyptian cobra went missing from New York’s Bronx Zoo on March 27, the news station did a Google search and found Reptile Gardens’ curator Phillip as the first reference for venomous snake expert. Phillip answered questions for the March 29 broadcast of “Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer,” which also featured animal expert Jack Hanna.

“This national exposure was a fun way to kick off our spring season,” said Joe Maierhauser, Reptile Gardens’ president and CEO. “CNN picked the right person to interview. With Terry’s 15 years of experience at Reptile Gardens working with virtually all of the world’s deadliest snake species, he certainly qualifies as an expert on venomous snakes.” Reptile Gardens officially opened its doors April 1.

This isn’t the first time Phillip has gained recognition as an expert on poisonous snakes. In the past, he has appeared on National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, PBS, and Animal Planet.

In an interview with the Rapid City Journal, Phillip predicted the Egyptian cobra would not leave the zoo.

"It's not going to leave the facility, especially this time of year in New York," he said. "They have complex machines and electrical facilities in the zoo, so it'd be hard to find a small snake like that. Give it some time though, and it'll show itself."

Snake expert Phillip couldn’t have been more correct. On April 1, the 24-inch snake was found coiled in a dark corner of the zoo’s reptile house.

To catch a glimpse of Phillip in action, the public is invited to visit Reptile Gardens this spring from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week. The Black Hills family attraction is located just six miles south of Rapid City on the road to Mt. Rushmore.

Spring admission is $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $7 for children 5-12 and free for children under age 4.

Area residents can revisit the reptile park all summer long by asking for the Reptile Gardens season pass. A season pass is free with each paid admission purchased, allowing visitors to return any time until Nov. 30.

Vacation passes are available for those visiting the beautiful Black Hills. This pass is free with an admission purchase and can be used any time during a visitor’s stay in the area.

For more information about Reptile Gardens, visit http://www.reptilegardens.com.

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