In mid-May 1937, tourists began arriving at Reptile Gardens. There was only one problem: the construction of the building was not complete. Not wanting to lose potential revenue, founder Earl Brockelsby had crew members begin selling postcards and rock art, while Earl gave tours of the attraction’s lookout tower.
Reptile Gardens officially opened on June 3, 1937. Admission cost 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children. On opening day, Reptile Gardens earned a total of $3.85. Revenues plummeted the next day because of rain, and Brockelsby took in only 35 cents. However, the tourist destination quickly picked up pace and was showing a profit by 1941 and employed 15 people.
Earl demonstrated several acts of bravado, including the daring act of holding a rattlesnake next to his open mouth. While his son recalled that other employees would have been fired for doing similar things, Earl always "knew that they weren't going to bite me." Earl was never bitten by a poisoness snake.
Reptile Gardens moved to its current location in 1965 as it was forced to relocate due to construction of a new highway. The new location allowed for the building of the sky dome, which houses a variety of exotic flowers, as well as the safari house. This year, Reptile Gardens celebrates its 80th year of operation.