With so many places and ways to see animals in South Carolina, it can be hard to choose where to start. But never fear! We've created this round-up of some of the places animal lovers should not miss.
Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia consistently ranks as one of the best zoos in America, with an incredible range of animals. It's also one of the very few zoos in the US with koalas. With a major renovation and a variety of new exhibits opening in 2016, Riverbanks promises to just keep getting better.
Greenville Zoo is home to orangutans, lions, giraffes and dozens of other animals, all located in beautiful Cleveland Park. Kids can spend the morning watching the zoo's animals frolic and play, and the afternoon frolicking and playing on Cleveland Park's amazing playground, located just outside the zoo entrance.
Lowcountry Zoo is found in the most beautiful of places: right in the midst of the amazing works of sculpture and vistas of Brookgreen Gardens. The zoo is great in its own right, and a visit inside the aviary is something you'll never forget.
Ripley's Aquarium in Myrtle Beach brings all that is fascinating about the sea right in front of your eyes. The Shark Tunnel lets you walk beside and under sharks and rays swimming in their massive tank. Exhibits on jellyfish and all things slimy in the sea will make kids squeal with a mixture of delight and squeamishness.
South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston not only has amazing animals, like an albino alligator, amazing programs that let you get up close and personal with sea creatures like touch tanks and animal feedings, and an amazing turtle hospital you can tour, it also has one of the prettiest views in Charleston. You can often see dolphins playing in the water from the aquarium's back deck.
Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw lets you see these incredible birds-eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and other birds of prey-up close. Feel and hear the birds in flight when you watch a flight demonstration, or wander through Owl Woods to see where these powerful birds live.
Charles Towne Landing Animal Forest in Charleston lets visitors step back in time. Ever wonder what wildlife the earliest English settlers in Carolina would have seen? Walk through the Animal Forest to learn and see deer, wild turkeys, pelicans, bison, pumas and bears.
Myrtle Beach Safari, a program of T.I.G.E.R.S. (the Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species), is an incredible three hour tour that allows visitors the chance to play with baby tiger cubs, feed an elephant, meet chimpanzees and have many other animal encounters. It's an animal experience like no other.