Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

I attempted to write this post earlier and somehow managed to publish the post before it was completed. Therefore, I am giving it another shot. Please forgive if you inadvertently received the fragment of the first attempt. I hope that doesn't happen again as it is very disconcerting, to say the least.

Today, I would like to share another place that is near and dear to my heart. Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens is a wonderful place to visit and has been named among the top ten zoos in America by TripAdviser in May, 2012. You can read about that here

We have been visiting Riverbanks for many years and, as with many places we know and love, we have watched it evolve. We began taking the eldest of two daughters when she was very young and she is now in her early forties. We now have the privilege of taking our five grandchildren, more often to the zoo than to the gardens because, like most children, they love seeing all of the many animals. There are very large mammals, amphibians and reptiles. There are a variety of aquatic animals, including some fairly large sharks and even tiny seahorses and other sea life. The walkways and paths in the walking areas provide a good deal of shade on warmer days and the flora. trees and shrubs of many varieties are a feast for those of us who love plants and gardening, even if you cannot make it over to the Gardens.

I am not receiving any monetary or other compensation from Riverbanks for sharing this information with you. As I have said many times before, I enjoy sharing ideas with my readers about places to go that are both fun and entertaining and, sometimes, educational. I also like saving money when I see an opportunity to do so.

Since we now have five grandchildren, who always enjoy going to the zoo, we decided years ago to purchase an annual membership in the Riverbanks Society. It is the most economical way for us to be able to take our grandchildren to the zoo as often as we would like, all during the year. The Family Plus membership that we have purchased for many years, though it has increased a little over the years, is $94.00. Membership gives us unlimited access to the zoo and gardens and our grandchildren can get in with us with no entrance fee. Currently, we are provided 12 guest passes to give to others for a day at the zoo and/or gardens. Not only does our membership help to protect our earth's wildlife and wild places, but it gives us free or discounted admission to more than 100 zoos and aquariums nationwide. To see a list of the many zoos and aquariums, nationwide and in Canada and Mexico, which are reciprocals you can go to this link. You can see why membership in a zoological society could be a real money saver, even when you travel to other places.

The remainder of this post will be comprised mostly of pictures taken during two recent visits to Riverbanks Zoo. We went once during early spring, when the grands were on spring break, and again this past Saturday. We were happy to have my youngest daughter's in-laws with us on Saturday. 

This enormous grizzly bear looks so laid-back. He seems to know how to "chill" as well as the best of us!
Grizzly Bear at Riverbanks Zoo

Another den-mate is this grizzly bear.
Grizzly Bear at Riverbanks Zoo
Can you see the Amur (Siberian) Tiger lying just behind a tree in this photo? The tigers are extremely large and are sometimes stalking back and forth, but were a little elusive on this visit. What beautiful cats!
Amur (Siberian) Tiger at Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, S.C.
King of the jungle, the proud and magnificent African lion looks as if he is posing. He is awesome!
Magnificent African Lion at Riverbanks Zoo
His lioness also appears to be sitting pretty for this shot.
African Lioness at Riverbanks Zoo
Beside the walkway in front of the lion exhibit is a wonderful sculpture created by an artist named Thomas Humphries. All materials used in creating this sculpture are recycled, including pieces of metal and other materials. I think it is a gorgeous piece. You can read more about Thomas Humphries and see more of his work by checking out this Facebook page.
Lion Sculpture Made of Recycled Materials by Thomas Humphries
No child can pass up the opportunity to climb on anything and my grandchildren are certainly no exception. At the gorillas and primates exhibits is this beautiful bronze of a gorilla. Note the beautiful shrubs, plants and trees in the background. The bench makes a nice place for resting and reflecting.

Gorilla Bronze at Riverbanks Zoo
The gorillas didn't seem to want to stay in one place long enough for a picture. Two Hamadryas baboons, a female standing and male (with mane) are pictured here: 
Hamadryas Baboons at Riverbanks Zoo

This is the golden lion tamarin.

This strange looking bundle of fur is actually a sloth, though he seems to seldom show his face. He is hanging upside down by his toes.
Sloth at Riverbanks Zoo
Red Kangaroos at Riverbanks Zoo

Giraffes at Riverbanks Zoo

An ostrich.
An Ostrich at Riverbanks Zoo
African elephants.
African Elephants at Riverbanks Zoo
A Caribbean Flamingo died last month at Riverbanks. This was especially noteworthy because she was the last of the original animals to be at the zoo when it opened forty years ago. You can read about this if you would like here in an article published in The State newspaper. She was several years old when she arrived at the zoo, so was well over forty years old and was was hatching chicks until  2009!

The flamingos are located just outside the entrance of The Birdhouse. Here is a picture of some of the vibrantly colored Caribbean Flamingos residing at Riverbanks.
Caribbean Flamingos at Riverbanks Zoo
The flamingo in the following picture was making a big fuss and coming up to the fence, trying to get attention. Maybe it was looking for a handout of shrimp, but I have never seen any of the flamingos exhibit this behavior beforeand I have observed them many times. I could not resist getting a picture of this dubious character, trying to "talk" to our Rachel, who is cautiously posing. 

Caribbean Flamingo at Riverbanks Zoo

Another photo of the persistent flamingo: 
An Inquisitive Flamingo at Riverbanks Zoo

Inside The Birdhouse are many species of exotic birds from Africa, Asia and South America. One section, Penguin Coast, houses several species of penguins. They eat, swim and play behind the glass enclosure. I snapped a few pictures of them, which remind me of  scenes from the movie "Happy Feet!"
Penguins in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo
Penguin in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo

Some of the Penguins in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo

Wreathed Hornbill, One of the Birds in The Birdhouse at Riverbanks Zoo
The Aquarium and Reptile Complex at Riverbanks is awe-inspiring. The following photos were taken there and are not nearly all of the specimens on exhibit. First, I will post some of the snakes, both venomous and non-venomous. I am not going to try and name them. I remember the names of some, but not all.
Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo

Snake at Riverbanks Zoo
 Frogs, Lizards, Geckos and Gigantic Hissing Cockroaches!

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches at Riverbanks Zoo

A few of the many fish and sea creatures:

Some sculptures at Riverbanks Farm exhibit.

Goat Sculpture at Riverbanks Zoo Made from Recycled Materials 

Fox and Rabbit Bronze Sculpture at Riverbanks Zoo
Some of the animals at Riverbanks Farm exhibit.

Riverbanks Zoo Farm

Riverbanks Zoo Farm

Riverbanks Zoo Farm
Grandpa and Grandma's Gardens:
Grandpa's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo

Grandma's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo

Grandma's Garden at Riverbanks Zoo
A pony ride:
Pony Ride at Riverbanks Zoo
A fun train ride:

Train Ride at Riverbanks Zoo
Riding the carousel:
Carousel at Riverbanks Zoo
Riverbanks now also offers a zip-line experience in which you "zip" all the way across the Saluda River which runs between the zoo and the gardens. We stood on which you can walk across to the gardens and watched people go across on the zip line. My batteries had died in my camera and so I didn't get a picture of this.

This is my only post in a month and it is probably the longest yet, so I will end with just a few pictures of the beautiful flowers now in bloom at the zoo. I hope that you will visit Riverbanks if you live in or visit the area. I hope, also, that you will be inspired to visit the ones that might be located near you.
Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo
Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Goodnight all!