Destination Riverbanks, the $36 million expansion and renovation of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, has already brought incredible new exhibits and facilities to one of the best zoos in the nation. This spring, even more amazing animals and family fun are on their way to Columbia.
The first phase of the expansion brought visitors Grizzly Ridge, an amazing glassed-in exhibit where beloved zoo resident grizzly bears Butch and Sundance can be seen getting up to their bear highjinks. It's not unusual to see the brothers standing up on their hind legs in what can only be described as a bear boxing match. They also often wrestle in their swimming hole to amazed visitors of all ages.
Ever wonder what it would feel like to effortlessly glide through the water? The playful otter sisters of Otter Run will make you wish you were in the water with them as they twist, turn and zip through their pool. Their new enclosure lets you see right into their pond, giving you a bird's eye view of their effortless swimming.
If watching the grizzlies and otters swim has made you and your kids crave your own watery fun, you're in luck. Waterfall Junction, a three-acre children's garden, features a treehouse playground in the forest canopy, an enormous sandbox full of "dinosaur bones" to discover and a fairyland. But perhaps the most fun of all on a famously hot Columbia summer day is the creek and pond to play in, a spray ground to run through and a waterfall to splash under. The new children's garden is across the river in Riverbanks' spectacular botanical garden. The towering footbridge there is its own adventure for kids and a gorgeous walk for grownups.
And last, but certainly not the least piece of the expansion is Sea Lion Landing. Opening June 2016, the incredible exhibit houses sea lions in seals in an enclosure that calls to mind Pier 39 in San Francisco. Visitors can watch the seals and sea lions from both above and through glass walls that let you peer right into their tanks.