Sea Lions are returning to Riverbanks Zoo - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Sea Lions are returning to Riverbanks Zoo

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

In the midst of a $36 million expansion plan, Riverbanks Zoo has nearly completed Destination Riverbanks.

Last April, Riverbanks Zoo began phase one of the project, including a the grizzly bear and river otter exhibits, a 4,500 square-foot gift shop and a new guest service center.

The final phase, which is expected to be completed in the spring of next year, will include the return of Sea Lion Landing.

Susan O'Cain, public relations manager for Riverbanks Zoo, says the sea lion exhibit was torn down in 2009 due to the need of an upgraded water filtration system. O'Cain says the sea lions were moved to Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.

"That exhibit that they were in were one of the original exhibits to the zoo," O'Cain says. "We knew that it was in the best interest for the animals to go ahead and move them and tear down that exhibit."

O'Cain says the new exhibit will mimic Pier 39 in San Francisco and will be spacious.

"It will include different viewing areas for our guests which will include underwater," she says. "Down the road once the sea lions do come back we are going to be offering daily animal presentations and training demonstrations."

The exhibit is scheduled to open Spring 2016.

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