If you’re looking for an animal adventure, then head south of the border to the Riverbanks Zoo. It’s just an hour and a half drive away in Columbia, SC. Fall is the perfect time of year to watch animals enjoy the milder days that autumn brings to the region. Riverbanks is a combination zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden located along the Saluda River. At 170 acres, it’s a perfectly sized zoo that packs a lot of animals inside its borders.
Lions, Tigers, and Bears Plus Many More
Home to over 2,000 animals with collections of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, there is a lot to see and do. In the Africa Plains, see giraffes, zebras, elephants and ostriches. Don’t miss the Australian animals – koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies. African lions, Siberian tigers, and Siamang apes are long-time favorites of the zoo.
Check out the award-winning Aquarium Reptile Complex, 20,000 square feet filled with amphibians, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates. Don’t miss the Pacific coral reef tank with sharks, moray eels, and numerous fish.
Catch one of these fun attractions: animal feedings, presentations or animal encounters. Watch the staff feed the penguins, listen and learn at a Gorilla presentation or participate in the Kangaroo talk. Grab a schedule of events at the front entrance and plan your day to gain more knowledge for your family.
Feed the Animals
Giraffes are a crowd favorite. They are tame and not shy about licking up a piece of lettuce from your hand. Giraffe feeding times are 10:00 to 1:30 pm. It is a popular experience, so expect to wait in line, but it is so worth it. A handful of lettuce costs an additional $2.00. Also, you can feed nectar to the Lorikeets (birds) at the Koala Knockabout for $2.00.
With the general admission price, you are able to experience the vast majority of the offerings at Riverbanks Zoo, but some experiences come at an additional cost. For the little ones, take a spin on the Endangered Species carousel, ride a pony, or take a ride on a railroad. For the more adventurous crowd, scale a rock wall, challenge yourself on a four-story vertical ropes course, or zip line around the zoo.
Good to Know
Riverbanks Zoo is a Traveler’s Choice 2014 Winner on Tripadvisor.com. It’s a top attraction in Columbia, and has received lots of accolades over the years. Recently, the zoo has rung in its 40th anniversary, so the trees and shrubs have grown over the years into enormous canopies hanging over many of the sidewalks providing a cooling shade and a picturesque environment.
The setting is exotic with the selections of plants, trees, and architecture. Restaurants are scattered about with fringed umbrellas. Exotic music is pumped through speakers throughout the zoo enhancing the tropical atmosphere.
For more information, check out their website at riverbanks.org.