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About Riverbanks

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 2,000 magnificent and fascinating animals and one of the nation’s most beautiful and inspiring botanical gardens. The Zoo first opened its gates to the local community on April 25, 1974, and has continued for more than four decades to provide individuals, families and groups with a common place to connect with and learn about the world’s wildlife and wild places. Today Riverbanks is one of the largest mid-sized zoos in the United States and South Carolina’s leading destination attraction, boasting a national reputation as one of America’s best zoos and drawing one million visitors annually.

In June 1995 Riverbanks Botanical Garden opened to the public. The extraordinary garden blooms year-round with more than 4,300 species of native and exotic plants and provides a living classroom for gardeners and non-gardeners alike. The formal Walled Garden offers a picture-perfect location for weddings and special events. One of Riverbanks’ newest attractions, Waterfall Junction, opened April 7, 2016. The 3-acre interactive children’s garden within the Botanical Garden inspires exploration, imagination and nature play with tree houses, a dinosaur bone dig, splash zones and plenty of room to roam.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973, Riverbanks is also the site of structural remains dating back to the early 1800s with South Carolina’s textile industry and the Civil War. Historic ruins can be seen from various locations along the footbridge linking the Zoo and Garden as well as along the naturally wooded River Trail.

Mission Statement

It is the mission of Riverbanks to foster appreciation and concern for all living things. We are dedicated to providing the highest standards of care for our animal and plant collections, a diverse educational and high-quality recreational experience for all Riverbanks visitors, and all the resources at our disposal for the conservation of the earth's flora and fauna.

Executive Biographies

Palmer “Satch” Krantz President & CEO

Satch Krantz began his career at Riverbanks in 1973 and has served as its director since 1976, making him one of the longest serving zoo directors in the nation.

One of only three American zoo directors that have served as president of the both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums, Krantz also was the first zoo director to serve two presidential terms for the AZA since WWII.

Krantz has received numerous accolades throughout his career. Most recently, Krantz was awarded the prestigious R. Merlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence. Established in 1978, the Marlin Perkins award is the highest honor bestowed upon a zoo professional by the AZA. Other honors include the Global Vision Award by the World Affairs Council, the International Ambassador of the Year Award by the Committee of 100, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Regional Cooperation from the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and Clemson Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award.

Krantz has been heavily involved in the community Riverbanks serves. He is a past president of the board of Palmetto Richland Children’s Hospital and the Columbia Rotary Club. He has also served as president of the Clemson University Board of Visitors and the University of South Carolina University Associates and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the River Alliance, the Children’s Hospital and the AZA.

A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Krantz is a graduate of Clemson University. He and his wife Becky are the proud parents of two grown sons.

Tommy Stringfellow Chief Operating Officer

Tommy Stringfellow is a 35-year veteran of the attractions industry. Currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer for Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC, Tommy is responsible for marketing, guest services, facilities and IT.

Prior to joining Riverbanks, Tommy was the Director of Sales and Marketing for Six Flags over Georgia Theme Park, Six Flags Whitewater Water Park and American Adventures Family Entertainment Center. There he was responsible for generating over 3 million annual visitors and generating 12 million in admissions and sponsorship revenue.

Earlier, Tommy was the Director of Sales and Marketing for Six Flags Great Escape and Waterpark in upstate New York. In addition to his theme park responsibilities, he directed the sales and marketing efforts for three hotels and two restaurants that were owned and operated by the Six Flags Company.

Tommy laid the foundation for his career working for Paramount Parks, Inc., which owned and operated five major theme parks and several prototype themed attractions. He climbed through the ranks in park operations management positions to Director of Sales during his tenure with Paramount Parks.

An active member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, Tommy is a graduate of Winthrop University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Marketing. He has recently served terms on the Marketing Advisory Committee for AZA and both the Columbia Metropolitan of Conventions and Visitors Bureau and Atlanta Convention and Tourism Board.

Tommy is a native South Carolinian and is married with two sons and one daughter.

Breta Rheney Chief Financial Officer

Riverbanks welcomed the return of Breta Rheney as chief financial officer in April 2016. The University of South Carolina graduate is a certified public accountant (CPA) who brings more than 30 years of accounting experience to the Zoo. Rheney was most recently employed by the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) as controller in the insurance finance area. Prior to her initial term at Riverbanks (May 2011 – October 2013), Rheney was the director of finance and controlling at Ebewe Parenta Pharmaceuticals, an internationally-owned generic pharmaceutical company. She also is the immediate past-president of the Government Finance Officers Association of South Carolina (GFOASC).

Mary Howard Chair, Riverbanks Park Commission

Mrs. Mary Howard has actively served as a member of the Riverbanks Park Commission, representing Lexington County, since December 2007. Prior to becoming chair, she also served for two years as vice-chair (2014–2016) and two years as treasurer (2012–2014).

After teaching for several years, Howard began her employment with the late Congressman Floyd Spence in 1981. She was promoted to District Administrator of the Second Congressional District in 1992. Nine years later, she accepted the role of District Administrator for Congressman Joe Wilson and served in that capacity until her retirement in 2004.

Howard also is a past president of the Riverbanks Society’s Board of Directors—the private, non-profit membership-based organization that supports the needs of the Zoo and Garden. In addition, she has served as a member of the Lexington Medical Center Foundation Board, as corresponding secretary for Friends of the Lexington County Museum and is a sustaining member and past president of the Lexington Woman’s Club.

Howard is a native of Hartsville and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from the University of South Carolina. She and her husband Jerry have three children and five grandchildren.

Learn more about Riverbanks Park Commission.

Chris Goodall President, Riverbanks Society

Chris Goodall is the Vice Chairman of Aflac Group Insurance. He previously served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Continental American Insurance Company (CAIC), which was acquired by Aflac in 2009. Prior to CAIC, Goodall was a partner in a Columbia law firm.

In 2013 Governor Haley appointed Goodall a Commissioner for the SC Housing Development and Financial Authority. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Wofford College, AFLAC Group, Pawmetto Lifeline, Riverbanks Zoo, Souper Bowl of Caring, Country Club of Sapphire Valley and Jubilee Academy.

He previously served on the ETV Commission and as director of Providence Hospital, BB&T Columbia Board, Hammond School Board, SC Association of Life Insurance Companies, CAIC, USC School of Medicine Partnership Board and the South Carolina Business Leaders Group.

When not in Columbia, Goodall and his wife Linell spend their time in the mountains of North Carolina.

Learn more about Riverbanks Society.