Columbia, SC – Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, a beloved destination in Columbia, is gearing up to celebrate its 50th anniversary on April 25. As the countdown begins, exciting partnerships, projects, and festivities are in the works.

Tommy Stringfellow, President and CEO of Riverbanks, expressed the growth and success of Riverbanks over the past 50 years. The zoo has become a cherished destination for guests, bringing entertainment, education, and a commitment to conservation together. Stringfellow aims to create lasting memories for visitors and inspire them to actively contribute to wildlife and conservation efforts.

Several new projects are underway to enhance the zoo experience. Construction is in progress for a new Komodo dragon breeding facility, expected to open in late spring or summer 2024. The facility, made possible by a bequest from Mr. Lloyd L. and Mrs. Doris N. Liles, will offer up-close views of the endangered lizards and contribute to the conservation of Komodo dragons.

A legacy gift from a longtime donor, Jane B. Friedman, will support the development of the Jane B. Friedman Conservation Learning Center. This new facility aims to transform the educational experience for young explorers, providing additional conveniences for parents and instructors. The education center is currently in the design phase and is set to open in 2026.

Riverbanks is also moving ahead with the next phase of Bridge to the Wild, an expansion project across the Saluda River. This expansion will connect communities and immerse guests in naturalistic animal habitats, showcasing the diversity of flora and fauna in South Carolina.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Riverbanks has partnered with Peak Drift Brewery to launch a line of craft beer and hard seltzer inspired by the zoo’s residents. A portion of every purchase will support the care and conservation of animals at Riverbanks.

Additionally, Riverbanks is collaborating with the South Carolina Wildlife Federation and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ North American Songbird SAFE program to address bird collisions with glass. Through this partnership, Riverbanks obtained a grant to install CollidEscape, an external window vinyl that makes glass visible to birds while maintaining an unobstructed view from inside.

Residents of Richland and Lexington Counties can enjoy Free Fridays at Riverbanks Zoo throughout February with proof of residency.

As Riverbanks Zoo approaches its 50th anniversary, the institution remains committed to providing a unique and engaging experience for visitors while contributing to wildlife conservation efforts. For more information about zoo events, visit


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