Big changes coming to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 3:51 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2021 at 11:36 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Big changes are coming to the Aquarium-Reptile Complex at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia.

The zoo will transform its current complex into an Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center that is expected to open in the spring or summer of 2022.

Features of the new center will include coral colonies and a desert biome with plant and animal species such as cacti, chuckwallas, spiny-tailed monitors and Gila monsters.

Zoo officials said the new habitats will offer “captivating views of some of the world’s most precious and endangered wildlife and bring to the forefront animal care and conservation efforts taking place behind-the-scenes at Riverbanks every day.”

Since 2019, Riverbanks aquarists have been caring for nearly 40 coral colonies rescued from the Florida Reef Tract, where an unknown disease has killed many of the corals.

>> Beyond the Banks: Riverbanks Zoo partners to help save corals in crisis along Florida reef

Guests will get to see those and learn about the conservation project in the new center.

The development was made possible by a donation from The Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation.

The zoo’s current Aquarium-Reptile Complex will close in August for the start of construction.

In preparation for that, the zoo has transferred some of its animals to other zoos -- including a pair of crocodiles who had lived at Riverbanks for more than 30 years.

The crocodiles are in their new home in Fresno, California in an outdoor habitat they enjoy, zoo officials said.

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