|Reptile Gardens gets spring cleaning in the winter|
|Friday, 18 January 2013 16:08|
David Yahne, curator of horticulture, says, "When people hear that I work at Reptile Gardens, they automatically think I get winters off, because we're not open. That would be nice, but it is not the case." When a tree falls in a dome everyone can hear it. This is just one of the many tasks workers at Reptile Gardens face during the winter months. David Yahne worked on what he calls thinning the jungle a process where they cut down vegetation to allow for new plants and better growth. Each winter, five truckloads worth of foliage gets taken down and sent to the landfill. Yahne says, "You can always tell when Reptile Gardens has been there ..." The ultimate goal is to create a somewhat new environment for guests who will return beginning in April. Yahne says, "We just want to give a backdrop that you can't see anywhere else really in Rapid City or the state for that matter, and it takes careful planning." Months of planning to be exact. And while Yahne keeps busy with the green others focus on the more slithery residents of the Gardens and updating their displays. Assistant Curator Lance Fuhrmann says, "Some of them will stay the same, they won't have any change like as far as the animals are concerned, but almost all of them, even if we're going to keep the same animal in it, we'll still have to pull them out at some point. We'll have to re-do the bark or the sub-straight or the rock or whatever it is." Snow may fill the gator pond and lizards may hide on the wall but it's the absence of people that's most noticeable. Fuhrmann says, "It's still fun to work with them, whether it's summer or not. Even in the summer, when we're cleaning and stuff, it doesn't bother us when people are on the other side and they give you a wave and you have to wave back." And it's those people who these workers want to impress. Which is why a little more than spring cleaning goes on, as the winter sun shines through this tropical dome. Yahne says, "Definitely a personal challenge every single year, I want to make it better, I want to make it bigger, I want to make it different. And I think that's one thing that just energizes me about my job is that I'm constantly testing myself to see what my abilities are." Now if you're wondering all of Reptile Gardens' animals are kept on the property during the winter. The alligators, which were out of view, are kept inside, in a cozy 90 degree pool and fed once a week. Reptile Gardens will open for the Spring Season on April 1st.