As Riverbanks neared its 50th birthday, the time seemed right to make a few enhancements that would offer new ways to connect with the natural world.
Enter the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. As part of the zoo’s vision to build a “Bridge to the Wild,” this exciting addition was unveiled in March 2023 and features a 20,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. Visitors can explore the wonders of land-to-sea habitats that are home to more than 11,000 animals representing more than 300 different species.
At its heart, the center is a significant step toward establishing the zoo as a leader in the conservation movement that will, according to Boyd Foundation CEO, Susan Boyd, “ensure that our world’s wildlife and their important habitats are preserved for generations.”
Escape the outside world (and the heat!) and immerse yourself in the fascinating world of ocean and desert environments, complete with the critters who live there.
Temperate and Tropical Forests As you enter, thrill to floor-to-ceiling exhibits with an alligator snapping turtle, cottonmouth, bushmaster, blue poison dart frogs and green anaconda.
Desert Biome Follow the pathway to the new desert biome with its arid habitats that are reflective of the Southwest. Desert dwellers include tortoises, rattlesnakes, and Gila monsters. Look up to glimpse thick-billed parrots and burrowing owls.
Land to Sea Habitats Beyond the desert, see a variety of animals from a king cobra to tiny Panamanian golden frogs. Peer into the nursery with incubating reptile eggs and new hatchlings.
A walk through a mangrove habitat will take you to the “sea” where sea urchins, chocolate chip sea stars, seahorses, and upside-down jellyfish thrive.
Aquarium Next up is the aquarium, a vibrant ocean habitat teeming with mesmerizing sights and sounds. Especially captivating is the otherworldly giant wall of moon jellies. You’ll definitely want to linger here a while.
Conservation Labs Once a behind-the-scenes tour experience, the zoo’s conservation work is now in full view. At the Coral Lab, learn about how Riverbanks is doing its part to protect precious coral reefs.
In the Terrestrial Lab, see efforts to save endangered reptiles and amphibians from around the globe as well as some endangered species specific to South Carolina.
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is open daily, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Entrance to the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center is included with every admission. Plan your visit here.