The Road Ahead Visitors to Riverbanks will soon enjoy a wider entry to better accommodate guests, a doubled-in-size gift shop, new guest relations center, state-of-the-art sea lion exhibit, relocated grizzly bear habitat, brand-new otter exhibit and interactive children’s garden.
New Sea Lion Experience
Sea Lion Landing will have a similar feel to San Francisco’s Pier 39 where many sea lions live today. This dynamic habitat will feature fantastic underwater observation 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
Grizzly Ridge, a bigger, better bear exhibit provides an expanded habitat for the popular bear brothers and nose-to-nose views of these amazing animals.
New River Otter Exhibit
Otter Run has already become a new visitor favorite as beloved river otters greet guests when they enter the Zoo’s attractive new entry plaza. This charismatic exhibit offers unparalleled, shared views of the neighboring grizzly bears.
Larger Entrance Plaza with Enhanced Guest Amenities
Before visitors enter the Zoo gates, they will encounter a beautifully designed new entry plaza featuring a 4,500 square-foot gift shop and a new guest relations center boasting more ticket booths, new guest services offices, first aid station, lost and found and an all-new lactation room.
Improved Parking and Visitor Access
More parking options already have been added for better traffic flow throughout the year. Ultimately, a new pedestrian bridge will traverse the railroad tracks from the new parking area at Rivermont Drive to the Zoo.
Slated to Open Summer 2016.
Interactive Children’s Garden
Waterfall Junction at Riverbanks Botanical Garden is the single largest addition to the Riverbanks’ campus since the Botanical Garden was completed in 1995. This 3-acre, interactive experience will engage visitors of all ages with a dino dig, tree houses, creeks and ponds, encouraging exploration, imagination and nature play.
Slated to Open Late 2015/Early 2016.
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.
Komodo Dragons Move to Larger Space
Riverbanks' two growing Komodo dragons have moved to a new, larger location at the Zoo. The lizards are taking up residence in a new indoor exhibit across from the siamangs, where guests can observe them through two large viewing windows. By spring, the dragons will also be able to explore a spacious backyard next to the Koala Knockabout.
New Main Entrance Now Open
The Zoo’s new main entrance officially opened Friday, July 3. This beautiful new entryway boasts new restrooms, a new guest relations center with more ticket windows, a guest relations desk, first aid station and private lactation room for nursing mothers. The entry plaza also features a doubled-in size gift shop. Zoo members get 10% off all gift shop purchases with a valid membership card.
All-New Otter and Bear Exhibits Now Open
Riverbanks is pleased to announce that Grizzly Ridge and Otter Run are now open. Guests now have the opportunity to get nose-to-nose with grizzly bears and North American river otters.
New Bird’s Eye View
The first of several new bird aviaries recently opened, adjacent to the all-new Solo’s Market. Additional aviaries will be built throughout the Zoo soon to replace those that were demolished to make way for the new sea lion exhibit.
Solo’s Market Now Open
A new snack bar has opened at the Zoo! The brand-new concession stand is named Solo’s Market after one of Riverbanks’ iconic apes. Solo the siamang arrived at Riverbanks on October 5, 1973, just eight months before the Zoo first opened. He delighted visitors for 33 years and in that time sired six offspring. Described by his keepers as self-assured, calm and a superb parent, Solo was loved by all who knew him. Solo’s Market features hand-battered chicken tenders, fried pickles, potato spirals, ICEES and other tasty snacks.
Garden Branches Out with New Tram Stop
With an exciting 3-acre children’s garden on the horizon, Riverbanks has moved the Botanical Garden tram stop to a more centrally located area near the amphitheater. Guests no longer need to exit or enter through the Visitors Center, and the walk from the Garden entrance is now much shorter! The tram will now transport guests from the Saluda River footbridge to the Rose Garden pavilion and back.
Botanical Garden Gears Up for Growth
In preparation for Waterfall Junction, 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 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.
Slated to Open Late 2015/Early 2016.
A New Look for the ARC
The Aquarium-Reptile Complex recently underwent a renovation in celebration of the popular building’s 25th anniversary. Members and guests can now look forward to an enhanced ARC experience boasting a new color scheme, upgraded flooring and newly designed graphics.
Weekly Photo Reports Destination Riverbanks is well underway! Buildings are going up and exhibits are being built — much of it in clear view for our members and guests to see. Join us as we grow! Check out the weekly photo reports below tracking progress at Sea Lion Landing, provided by Rodgers Builders, as well as our latest children's garden update:
Weekly Photo Report—October 5–9, 2015
Rodgers Builders continues to make steady progress at sea lion, even in the aftermath of South Carolina's historic flood event.
Weekly Photo Report—September 28–October 2, 2015
Sea Lion Landing is going to be a really big deal! Crews installed 20,000 pounds of acrylic viewing window today.
Weekly Photo Report—September 14–18, 2015
An awesome sight, the first of the viewing panels have been installed!
Weekly Photo Report—September 8–11, 2015
NEW - Children's Garden Report - September 2015
Another amazing project... The children's garden in the Botanical Garden is really taking shape! Stay tuned for more updates on the children's garden through the fall.
Weekly Photo Report—August 31–September 4, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—August 24–28, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—August 17–21, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—August 10–14, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—August 3–7, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—July 27–31, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—July 20–24, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—July 13–17, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—July 6—10, 2015
Now turning our attention to sea lion... the building footprint has really taken shape!
Weekly Photo Report—June 29–July 3, 2015
It's official! Phase I of Destination Riverbanks is now complete! Make plans now to see the beautiful new Zoo entrance, grizzly bear and otter exhibits. More to come....
Weekly Photo Report—June 22–26, 2015
Final touches are being placed on Phase One as it nears completion, and sea lion is progressing nicely!
Weekly Photo Report—June 15–19, 2015
Main entrance gate is nearly complete - and the sea lion structure is starting to take shape!
Weekly Photo Report—June 8–12, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—June 1–5, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—May 25–29, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—May 18–22, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—May 11–15, 2015
Moving forward....final touches are being made in preparation for the introduction of grizzly bears and otters!
Weekly Photo Report—May 4–8, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—April 27–May 1, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—April 20–24, 2015
Things are really coming together with Phase I (entry, grizzly bear and otter)!
Weekly Photo Report—April 13–17, 2015
Weekly Photo Report—April 6–10, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — March 30–April 3, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — March 23–27, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — March 16–20, 2015
New guest relations center, gift shop, grizzly bear and otter exhibits continue to be on track for a summer opening!
Weekly Photo Report — March 9–13, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — March 2–6, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — February 23–27, 2015
Wow! The new guest services building, grizzly bear and otter exhibits are really coming along!
Weekly Photo Report — February 16–20, 2015
Through rain, sleet, and freezing temperatures, the Destination Riverbanks construction crew keeps on keeping on!
Weekly Photo Report — February 9–13, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — February 2–6, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — January 19–23, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — January 12–16, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — January 5–9, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — December 29, 2014 – January 2, 2015
Weekly Photo Report — December 15–19, 2014
We’re seeing remarkable progress towards Destination Riverbanks every day! Swing by soon and watch us as we grow…
Weekly Photo Report — December 8–12, 2014
Weekly Photo Report — December 1–5, 2014
Moving right along, we’re soaring to new heights with walls and framing!
Weekly Photo Report — November 17–21, 2014
From wood framing and steel studs to concrete slabs and masonry walls, there’s so much growing on at Riverbanks!
Weekly Photo Report — November 10–14, 2014
Guest services building starting to take shape with steel beams and columns; grizzly bear and otter exhibits progressing nicely with foundations and retaining walls; and sub-grade excavation taking place at sea lion!
Weekly Photo Report — November 3–7, 2014
Construction continues to ZOOm along! Exciting times at Riverbanks…
Weekly Photo Report — October 27–31, 2014
Exciting progress being made with otter holding area and guest services building!
Weekly Photo Report — October 20–24, 2014
Weekly Photo Report — October 13–17, 2014
Weekly Photo Report — October 5–10, 2014
Weekly Photo Report — September 22–26, 2014
Despite the rain, foundations have been poured for the new guest services building and gift shop!
Weekly Photo Report — September 15–19, 2014
Weekly Photo Report — September 8–12, 2014
Weekly Photo Report — September 1–5, 2014
Progress, progress… The new guest services building footprint is starting to take shape!
Weekly Photo Report — August 25–29, 2014
Weekly Photo Report — August 18–22, 2014
Weekly Photo Report — August 11–15, 2014
Well, this week was consumed with the relocation of utilities, rough grading, exhibit backfill and rain.