COLOMBIA – Governor Henry McMaster along with members of the South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives will commemorate the 48-year history of the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden with a Senate resolution declaring May 4 Zoo Day and from the Riverbanks Garden in South Carolina. McMaster will sign the “Zoo Day” proclamation at 2 p.m. on the south steps of the Statehouse.
Zoo and community members are invited to attend the special occasion. The recognition will be celebrated annually on May 4 to celebrate the zoo’s stature as a world leader in animal care and welfare, education, recreation, science and wildlife conservation.
“This is a day of celebration for Riverbanks staff, our members and guests, and the community,” said Tommy Stringfellow, President and CEO of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. “We are extremely grateful to Governor McMaster and our state legislators for their support of Riverbanks, our efforts as a leader in animal and plant care and wildlife conservation, and our economic impact on communities. local and state economies as a destination attraction.”
People also read…
Riverbanks has cemented its reputation as South Carolina’s largest enclosed tourist attraction and the most-visited zoo in the Southeast, welcoming more than one million visitors annually. More than half of paying visitors to Riverbanks are tourists living 50 miles or more outside of Columbia. More than 20% live out of state, hailing from all over the continental United States and as far away as Alaska, Brazil, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
A powerhouse of tourism, Riverbanks injects almost $150 million into the Midlands economy and has an economic impact of $95.1 million on the state. Annual off-site spending by zoo and garden visitors is nearly $30 million, split between accommodation, food and beverage, and retail. Air travel related to overnight stays represents nearly $25 million.
“The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has been a source of pride for the Midlands and South Carolina since it first opened,” McMaster said. “Their dedication to wildlife protection and service as a powerful educational tool has distinguished them as one of America’s finest zoos. It is a privilege to recognize them and all zoos in Carolina of the South, for their impact on our State.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is home to 2,000 animals and over 4,200 native and exotic plant species. Another milestone in the history of Riverbanks came in 1995 with the opening of the Riverbanks Botanical Garden. The award-winning botanical garden is considered one of the most beautiful and inspiring public gardens in the country. Waterfall Junction, a 3-acre interactive children’s experience in the Botanical Garden, opened in April 2016 and is a new family favorite.
“After nearly 50 years, countless visitors have created lasting memories at Riverbanks Zoo. It is a premier attraction for the Midlands and for South Carolina as a whole. We are grateful for their commitment to creating an exceptional experience for visitors, and we are proud to celebrate this well-deserved recognition,” said Duane Parrish, director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
The Senate resolution comes as Riverbanks prepares to boast another significant achievement with the opening of the Darnall W. & Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center later this year. The renovation will include dynamic and expansive new habitats for animals and highlight the zoo’s role in wildlife conservation and conservation partnerships.