Hot Weather Hatchings and More

For Immediate Release: September 5, 2023

New Hatchlings and Successful Partnerships Soared This Summer at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Columbia, SC — Eager to experience the Columbia, South Carolina summer first-hand, several new friends emerged from their eggs throughout the hottest months at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. The Zoo’s newest residents are always a big draw, and plenty of “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” can be heard from guests who see these zoo babies. Riverbanks’ summer promotion, Toucan Tuesdays, also turned out to be a big win.

In June, four rockhopper penguin chicks hatched at Riverbanks. After some behind-the-scenes training, they are all back on exhibit with official names: Jane B., named in memory of a long-time friend of Riverbanks; Quartz, a mineral found in the Antarctic region, received the winning vote by Brew at the Zoo-goers; Fig, aptly complementing his father, Newton, received a winning vote by Riverbanks’ staff by a landslide (or a penguin slide, if you prefer); and Phae (pronounced Fay), named by a keeper after Phaethon, the original genus classification of the southern rockhopper penguin. The chicks are easy to spot, as they do not yet have the distinguishing yellow feathers at the top of their head like the adults. Stop by the Birdhouse at Riverbanks to catch a glimpse.

In July, Riverbanks also welcomed three flamingo chicks. They have grown very fast and can be seen daily in their habitat. They are easy to spot since they have not yet developed their defining pink feathers. Riverbanks’ employees love to share their daily walk with the chicks from the Bird Conservation Center to Flamingo Island. The flamingo walk is the definition of cuteness. (Be sure to check out the pictures in the link below.)

The bird team at Riverbanks saw many other hatchings this summer including lorikeets, white-rumped shama, troupial, green-napped pheasant pigeon, black-naped fruit dove, chestnut-backed thrush, red-crusted turaco, Chinese hwamei, and kookaburra. Colleen Lynch, Curator of Birds at Riverbanks says, “All of these hatches are the results of efforts by highly skilled teams and are important contributions to the animal populations that allow zoos to create connections, inspire actions, and impact conservation. These kids are the future!”

The newly renovated Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium and Reptile Conservation Center (ARCC) also boasted numerous summer hatchings. Several baby corn snakes emerged from their eggs, and Riverbanks released them into their native habitat. Pine snakes slithered out of their eggs and are still in the Zoo’s care. Other reptiles also hatched inside the ARCC’s Nursery and Conservation Lab including four species of leaf-tailed geckos and several Standing’s day geckos. The newest hatchling is an endangered neon day gecko weighing only .1 gram.  (See the picture of this little guy in the link below).

Wrapping up the successful summer, Riverbanks is pleased to share the results of the Toucan Tuesdays summer promotion, which ran ten weeks from June through August in partnership with Harvest Hope Food Bank. Guests who brought two cans (or bags and boxes) of non-perishable food items received buy-one-get-one admission to the park along with buy-one-get-one ICEEs. Through the community’s participation and generosity, 3,405 pounds of food were donated to Harvest Hope. Participants also took advantage of over 850 buy-one-get-one deals at Riverbanks. “We are grateful to our partner Riverbanks Zoo and Garden for helping us bring awareness to food insecurity through their Toucan Tuesdays promotion,” said Erinn Rowe, CEO of Harvest Hope Food Bank. “Together, through the generosity of the guests at Riverbanks, we are able to provide 2,837 meals to our South Carolina neighbors.”


Penguin Chicks | Flamingo Chicks | Neon Gecko Hatchling | Toucan Tuesdays |


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Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 3,000 magnificent and fascinating animals and one of America’s best public gardens. The Zoo opened on April 25, 1974, and for nearly five decades, has connected individuals, families and school children with the natural world. Riverbanks is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is recognized as a global leader in animal care and welfare, education, recreation, science and wildlife conservation. It is the mission of the Zoo and Garden to create meaningful connections and inspire actions that will have a lasting impact on conservation. For more information, visit