The Road Ahead Visitors to Riverbanks will soon enjoy a wider entry to accommodate crowds, a doubled-in-size gift shop, new guest services building, state-of-the-art seal/sea lion exhibit and interactive children’s garden.
New Seal/Sea Lion Experience
Riverbanks’ future sea lion exhibit will have a similar feel to San Francisco’s Pier 39 where many sea lions live today. The habitat will feature fantastic underwater viewing opportunities from varying viewpoints for guests to watch the fin-footed favorites in action. Shaded seating will provide added comfort during planned presentations.
Slated to Open Spring 2016.
Enhanced Grizzly Bear Habitat
Riverbanks’ grizzly bear exhibit will be relocated to make way for an expanded gift shop. Plans include an expanded habitat with unparalleled views of the bears as otters swim in the foreground.
Slated to Open Summer 2015.
Larger Entrance Plaza with Enhanced Guest Services
Before visitors enter the Zoo gates, they will discover a beautifully designed open entry plaza featuring a 4,500 square-foot gift shop and a new guest services building boasting ticket booths, guest services offices, first aid, lost and found, and a new nursing room.
Slated to Open Summer 2015.
Improved Parking and Visitor Access
The larger entry will eliminate a number of existing parking spaces, but more parking options will be added in other areas for better traffic flow throughout the year.
Slated for Spring 2015.
Interactive Children’s Garden
Plans are also underway for an interactive children’s garden where kids will have the opportunity to climb, crawl, dig, splash and play while exploring creeks, ponds, tree houses and nature.
Slated to Open Late Winter 2015.
Hard Hat Happenings As we pave the way for the future, we plan to keep our members and guests informed. Check back here often for the latest listing of renovation changes and updates.
Turn Right for Riverbanks
As Riverbanks rebuilds at the main Zoo entrance, entering the park has taken a momentary turn. Members and guests will now be redirected to a temporary entrance that welcomes visitors into the Carousel Plaza. For the best parking, members should plan to arrive early and turn right (instead of left) when crossing over the railroad tracks. Parking for vehicles displaying disabled placards will remain the same. We appreciate your patience as we build a bigger, better entryway.
New Zoo entrance tentatively set to re-open in the summer of 2015.
Renovations Result in Some Animal Moves
Preparing for a major expansion requires plenty of strategic moves to make way for the renovations. Here’s what’s in the works now: The Zoo’s grizzly bears have moved temporarily to Tulsa Zoo (OK) while their new habitat is being built. In anticipation of the coming sea lion exhibit, the red-ruffed and ring-tailed lemurs have moved into the Riverbanks Conservation Outpost (small mammal tunnel) and the Malaysian tapir and babirusas are staying cool behind the scenes for the time being. The alligator has now returned to his lagoon at Riverbanks after his temporary stay at Alligator Adventure in Myrtle Beach, and the Hamadryas baboons are all moved in to their new, expanded habitat near the Zoo's lion exhibit. Stay tuned for more movin’ and shakin’ updates.
Botanical Garden Gears Up for Growth
In preparation for the all-new 3-acre children’s garden coming to Riverbanks Botanical Garden, the “secret garden” play area, originally designed and built by playground designer and local resident Jim Mosteller, has been dismantled. Thanks to Mr. Jim’s selfless efforts, the secret garden has been a source of learning and enjoyment for many children and families over the last several years. The Discovery Garden is also closed. As families now await the much-anticipated new botanical attraction, kids can continue to climb and slide on the playground near the carousel at the Zoo. The Garden’s new outdoor adventure is slated to open in the late winter of 2015 and promises to connect kids to nature as they climb, crawl, dig, splash and play in a safe and exciting environment complete with tree houses, creeks, ponds and a dinosaur dig.
Kenya Cafe Reopens as Tuskers
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s flagship restaurant recently underwent a major facelift resulting in more indoor seating, a more efficient layout, stylish upgrades — and a new name! Now open, Tuskers is Columbia’s wildest new restaurant and rental facility. Menu items include fresh hand-made salads, Artisan sandwiches, 100% Angus beef burgers, hand-battered chicken tenders and fun kids’ meals. Be sure to swing by during your visit and enjoy an exceptional dining experience with views of zebras, ostriches and giraffes!
We’ve Packed Up the Trunk and Moved…
With all the moving and shaking that is happening around the Zoo’s main entrance, we can’t forget that Elephant’s Trunk Gift Shop, the Zoo’s main retail store, will be doubling its size over the next year. ET, as it is fondly called by Riverbanks staff, has packed up and moved to a temporary location behind Carousel Ice Cream while its larger location is being built. Be sure to check out what’s in store at our new digs on your next visit.
Riverbanks members get 10% off with a valid membership card!