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Reptile Gardens listed in Guinness World Records

RAPID CITY (AP) — The Reptile Gardens tourist attraction in Rapid City has slithered its way into the record books.

The facility, with more than 200 species of reptiles from around the world, is listed in the latest edition of the Guinness World Records book as home to the world's largest collection of reptiles.

"I was shocked but absolutely thrilled," Gardens spokesman Johnny Brockelsby, who sought the Guinness listing, told the Rapid City Journal. "We have always claimed we were the world's largest, but everybody claims they are the biggest this or the biggest that. But when the new book came out naming us the largest reptile collection in the world, it immediately gave us credibility."

Brockelsby's father, Earl, started Reptile Gardens 77 years ago with a sack of rattlesnakes. It now has a variety of reptiles from across the world, including a salt water crocodile from Australia and a Komodo dragon from Indonesia.

The attraction on U.S. Highway 16 south of Rapid City had to beat out zoos in Dallas, San Diego, St. Louis and Moscow to capture the Guinness title. Brockelsby told the Capital Journal that keeping the record will be a priority.

"We have to be vigilant to maintain the largest collection in the world," he said. "We plan to continue to strive to be not only the biggest but also the best reptile park anywhere in the world."

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