The first stop on the third and final day of my South Carolina/North Carolina road trip was the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia, SC. I’d been to Riverbanks before, but it was years ago and found it to be much improved than I remembered. They have a large and varied collection of animals and birds and they all appear well taken care of. Many of the exhibits are large and open for the overall space available for the zoo. Unfortunately, given that temperatures for the day started in the low 30s, some of the animals more accustomed to warmer climates weren’t out in their exhibits. The Grizzly Bears weren’t out in their exhibit either, but I’m not sure why. I particularly enjoyed the Kangaroo exhibit, which you’re able to walk through on a path with nothing between you and the Kangaroos and Wallabies.
I wasn’t aware that Greenville, SC had a zoo until I started searching for things to do to replace the Cowpens and Kings Mountain battlefields that were closed due to the government shutdown during my vacation trip. I visited it after Musgrove Mill and the BMW Zentrum on the first day of my road trip and it turned out to be a good choice because it’s a very pleasant, small zoo. They’ve made effective use of the land that they have and although I’ve seen some complaints online that the enclosures are too small, the zoo is AZA accredited (one of the complaints was about the Lion enclosure and the zoo is building a new Lion enclosure). They have a variety of animals in their collection including Amur Leopards, Red Pandas, Orangutans, Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, and Schmidt’s Red-Tailed Guenons (and much more). One of the Black and White Ruffed Lemurs seemed to be just as interested in me as I was in it! As zoos go, the admission is relatively inexpensive at $9.75 for adults, so if you find yourself near Greenville I’d definitely drop in for a visit.
Jacksonville, FL – I’m not going to pass judgment on the Jacksonville Zoo based on my visit this Tuesday. The weather was heavily overcast when I left the Museum of Science and History, but after I was in the zoo for awhile, it began to rain. Since it was misting/raining, some of the animals were hiding and trying to stay warm and dry. The ape exhibit is also closed for renovation. so that reduced some of what there was to see. They do have a variety of wildlife from Africa, Asia/Australia, and South America, as well as animals native to Florida. There are several restaurants inside the zoo and the one I ate lunch at had surprisingly decent prices (to be honest, I was expecting high food/drink prices). One of these days, I’ll get back down there on a brighter, warmer day where more of the animals will be out and conditions more conducive to photography.