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Forming the Framework

Construction crews have formed the framework for the walkway leading to the entrance of the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. Over the next several months, the spacious entry will transform into the lush landscape shown below.

The Shell of a Habitat

Over the last few weeks, shotcrete has been added to several habitats as progress continues inside the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. These photos show the shell of the new snapping turtle exhibit. The Zoo is home to one Alligator snapping turtle. Other native fishes also will be cared for in this habitat.

Who Who is New?

Who who is new at the Zoo? These four burrowing owls. The birds are currently being cared for off habitat until their new aviary inside the Conservation Center is complete. The aviary will be housed inside the desert bio-dome in the old tropical gallery.

Expansive Entrance

Construction crews are making steady progress on the expansive new entrance to the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. The transformation will offer a pathway for guests to visit a variety of aquatic and desert species such as green tree monitors. For now, these remarkable reptiles (also pictured below) are hanging out behind-the-scenes until their new habitats are complete.

Not Dragon Around

Crews aren't "dragon" around with construction on new animal habitats including the home of this young bearded dragon. Currently, this little guy is being cared for behind-the-scenes as the bearded dragon exhibit takes shape. The second photo shows the current stage of progress.

Taking Root

The tree in the top image has taken root inside the Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center as the Temperate Forest habitat continues to bud. The bottom photo shows this tree's first stage of development. The Temperate Forest will be home to a variety of reptiles including alligator snapping turtles and various lizard and snake species.

A Wave of Progress

The Boyer Construction crew is hard at work making a wave of progress on the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium and Reptile Conservation Center. Recognize this area? The photo shows the entrance closest to the Zoo's former stingray and anaconda exhibits and the future home of desert habitats that will feature a variety of scaly species such as western rattlesnakes, iguanas, and Gila monsters.

Joining Our Flock

The Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center is slated to welcome some new feathered friends. Our Bird Department has been busy making plans and preparing for upcoming arrivals of individuals that will call this new habitat home. Some of these endangered desert loving species will include masked bobwhite quails and thick-billed parrots. 

Glowing Gallery

We are thrilled to construct an entire jelly gallery inside the Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. These alien-looking creatures are named for their translucent, moon-like bell. Instead of long trailing tentacles, the moon jelly has short tentacles that sweep food toward the mucous layer on the edge of the bell. Just imagine the incredible view of seeing hundreds of these glowing moon jellies. Stay tuned for more updates!

Slithering into a Temporary Home

We heard from many guests and members when the original Aquarium-Reptile Complex closed that they were worried the green anaconda was leaving. Not to fear, the green anacondas are remaining at Riverbanks and will enjoy a new space within the Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. In fact, during this construction period our largest female anaconda has taken up temporary residence inside our animal hospital.

Corals in Crisis

The Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center will highlight some of Riverbanks' backstage conservation efforts. One example is our critical role in the Florida Reef Tract Rescue Project. Since 2019, Zoo aquarists have been caring for nearly 40 coral colonies that were rescued off the coast of Florida near Key West. The vast majority of corals along the 360-mile stretch have been destroyed by an unknown disease.

“Riverbanks is among select land-based facilities housing and caring for unaffected stony corals while researchers try to better understand the disease, its impact on the FRT, and how future outbreaks can be prevented,“ said Jennifer Rawlings, aquarium curator at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. “Our members and guests will now have the rare opportunity to witness the propagation of these animals as part of the new coral conservation lab.”

Desert Biome

Demolition has continued throughout the building this month! But even with all the changes happening inside, we know you'll recognize where these photos were taken. This redesigned area will soon be home to our new Desert Biome. It might be challenging to picture now, but eventually this area will be home to various cacti, rattlesnakes, tortoises, Gila monsters, and many more desert species! 

Newest Little Addition

Introducing Destiny: Riverbanks' newest little green sea turtle.

She was hatched last month on the beach in Garden City, South Carolina. Sea turtle nesting volunteers collected her to live at Riverbanks as part of our partnership with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Unlike other tiny hatchlings, Destiny will have a greater chance to survive into adulthood, whereas most sea turtle hatchlings have a 1 in 1,000 likelihood to grow into adulthood.

For the next two years Riverbanks will provide a safe home for Destiny, free from pollution and predators so that she can grow big and strong. Then just like our last temporary green sea turtle resident, Journey, this newest little addition will be released into the ocean too.

For now Destiny is behind-the-scenes, away from the construction, but we'll make sure to keep y'all updated on her growth and development over the coming months.


Demolition Continues

Interior demolition continued through October, and some initial work started on mechanical, electrical and plumbing. Can you identify the exhibit pictured in the photo on the left? Hint: You may have encountered it in the second "gallery."

Renovations are Underway

Demolition of the interior of the original Aquarium-Reptile Complex has begun. Do you recognize this area? Here's a hint: You may have seen a green anaconda in here!

We're Making Big waves!

A huge thank you to everyone who joined us as we broke ground on the future home of the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. The new venture will advance the Zoo's mission to protect and conserve endangered species in the state and beyond.