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Riverbanks Named Beneficiary of Single Largest Private Gift in Zoo’s History

For Immediate Release: November 8, 2011

[Columbia, SC] — Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has received the single largest bequest in its 37-year history. The Charitable Remainder Trust of Melinda Poole Grizzell recently bestowed an unrestricted gift of $863,000 to Riverbanks Society – the private, non-profit organization supporting the needs of the Zoo and Garden.

Melinda Poole Grizzell moved to South Carolina from San Diego with her family a little more than 20 years ago. Not only did she enjoy visiting the Zoo and Garden, she also loved the art of quilting and frequent boat rides on Lake Murray. Grizzell, who conveyed a passion for animals and the Zoo through more than 20 years of membership and financial support to Riverbanks Society, passed away on January 30, 2011. "Our grandfather, HM Poole, donated to and served as a board member for the San Diego Zoological Society. We believe his love for giving contributed to the compassion she had for others,” says Andrew Grizzell, Grizzell’s son.

Throughout her life, Grizzell not only supported Riverbanks Zoo but also many other organizations throughout the community. She insisted that she remain anonymous any time she made a contribution. She never wanted to be acknowledged publicly for her donations because she wanted the organization to have the attention. "We are so proud of her generosity and feel that this is the time for others to witness what a wonderful caring person she was,” says Emilie Jeffries, Grizzell’s daughter. 

"We are grateful and humbled by Ms. Grizzell’s ultimate show of support,” said Satch Krantz, executive director of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "Her legacy has come at a critical point in Riverbanks’ history. We currently face a number of infrastructure needs, and at the same time, it has been 10 years since we added any major new exhibits.”

Riverbanks officials are currently prioritizing a list of maintenance projects and new exhibits to determine the best use of the funds.

Legacies such as Grizzell’s are critical to Riverbanks maintaining its status as a world-class zoo and botanical garden. Planned gifts can be financially advantageous throughout a lifetime or may be passed on to heirs. For information on Riverbanks’ Silverback Society planned giving program or to make a donation to the Zoo, visit