Columbia, South Carolinas popular Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is an award winning attraction that offers fun for the entire family. With so much to see and do at the 170-acre complex, visitors could easily spend an entire day. Low Country Parent magazine has voted the zoo and gardens the most family friendly day trip destination.
Riverbanks Zoo has more than 2,000 animals in natural habitats. The wide variety of animals includes the expected as well as the unexpected. The African Plains section is the home of lions, giraffes, and zebras. The Ndoki Forest is the place to view elephants and gorillas. Visitors will see koalas, wallabies, and red kangaroos in the Australian section. The penguins are a popular exhibit in the Birdhouse. The Aquarium Reptile Complex contains four galleries, including the 55,000 gallon Pacific Coral Reef tank with its sharks and eels. A number of activities are included in the admission price including keeper talks, bird shows, penguin feedings, and aquarium diving demonstrations. For an additional fee the zoo offers pony rides, a childrens train ride, a carousel ride, a 3-D Adventure Theater, and the Wild Adventure Climbing Wall. Visitors may also purchase food for animals such as giraffes and lorikeets.
The beautiful Botanical Garden is connected to the zoo by a footbridge over the Saluda River. A tram also runs between the zoo and the garden every 10-15 minutes. Visitors may stroll through the Shade Garden and the quiet Woodland Walk, which offer a cooling respite on hot days. They may discover a series of secret garden rooms in the Walled Garden. The Old Rose Garden is a showplace for antique roses as well as perennials and annuals.
Visitors to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden may bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in the picnic area at the west end of the zoo parking lot. Sandwiches and snacks are available for purchase at several places inside the zoo. Admission is $11.75 for adults and $9.25 for children ages 3-12 years. Children 2 and under are admitted free. The admission price is really a bargain, as it allows entry into both the zoo and the garden. The facility is open daily from 9am-5pm, with extended weekend hours in the summer from 9am-6pm. The main entrance is located at 500 Wildlife Parkway, off I-26 at Greystone Boulevard. The garden entrance is located at 1300 Botanical Parkway, off Highway 378 at I-20 and I-26. Visitors to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will enjoy a full day of fun.