Celebrate a tortoise’s 128th birthday

Children visit Methuselah, a 128-year-old tortoise, at the Black Hills tourist attraction Reptile Gardens. (Photo by South Dakota Tourism)Reptile Gardens is one of the many businesses operating along a kind of tourist alley in the Black Hills, on U.S. Highway 16 between Rapid City and Mount Rushmore. This year, Reptile Gardens has come up with a novel promotion to attract publicity and visitors.

During Reptile Gardens’ annual Guest Appreciation Weekend June 13-14, the attraction also will celebrate the 128th birthday of "Methuselah," a tortoise who was born in 1881 in the Galapagos Islands and was moved to South Dakota in 1956.

In a press release about the event from the state Office of Tourism, Methuselah, who could live to be 200, is billed as the oldest living resident of South Dakota and one of the oldest living residents of the United States. The tortoise weighs 600 pounds and is a strict vegetarian who likes spending his days in mud holes.

Festivities during the birthday celebration and Guest Appreciation event will include cake, watermelon and Coca-Cola for guests. To learn more about Reptile Gardens, you can check out its Web site, which sums up the attraction this way:

Today Reptile Gardens boasts of housing more species of reptiles than any other zoo or park in the world – a long way from its modest beginning in 1937. Reptile Gardens also seeks to educate the public on important environmental issues and works closely with many major zoos worldwide to promote species survival through breeding loans.

Since its founding, Reptile Gardens has provided a great entertainment experience for literally millions of visitors by giving them the chance to observe exotic, unusual animals up close. The current management and staff plan to continue this tradition. They are dedicated to keeping Reptile Gardens one of the premier family attractions in the Midwest.

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.

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