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the member magazine for Riverbanks Zoo and Garden | May-June 2019

Volume XXXVIII, Number 3

Riverbanks is published six times a year for members of Riverbanks Society by Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, Columbia, South Carolina.

Riverbanks Park Commission Bud M. Tibshrany, Chair Robert G. Davidson, Vice-Chair Jan Stamps, Treasurer Alana Odom Williams, Secretary M.F. “Phil” Bartlett Mary Howard Michael Phemister Velasco

Riverbanks Society Board

J. Anderson Folsom, President Susan S. Keenan, Vice President J. Stuart Moore, Treasurer Marie McGehee, Secretary Derrick L. Williams, Immediate Past President Carl W. Blackstone A. Mattison Bogan Clifford Bourke, Jr. William J. Brennan Sharon W. Bryant Cecilia Fournil Jeffrey Gossett David G. Hodges Stephanie R. Jones Sarah Kirby Shelby Kay Leonardi Sarah Bovaird Locke William G. McMaster Andrew Reed Jeffrey T. Reeves Tristan K. Weinkle, DVM, DACVIM Don F. Barton, Director Emeritus

Riverbanks Executive Officers

Thomas K. Stringfellow, President & CEO Ed Diebold, Chief Life Sciences Officer Breta Rheney, Chief Financial Officer Dave Ruhl, Chief Operating Officer Christie Vondrak, Chief Human Resources Officer Lochlan Wooten, Chief Marketing Officer

Riverbanks Senior Staff

Rachael Bashor, Director of Education Andy Cabe, Director of Botanical Garden John Davis, Director of Animal Care & Welfare Kevin Eubanks, Director of Guest Services Eric Helms, Director of Construction & Planning Monique Jacobs, Director of Riverbanks Society Al Nelson, Director of Facilities Maintenance Susan O’Cain, Director of Communications Melodie Scott-Leach, Director of Habitat Horticulture Martha Weber, DVM, Director of Animal Health Colleen Lynch, Curator of Birds Scott Pfaff, Curator of Herpetology Sue Pfaff, Curator of Mammals Jennifer Rawlings, Aquarium Curator




CONTENTS Inside Scoop Director’s View............................................................................ 1 A message from the President & CEO Conservation Corner.................................................................. 18 Saving species locally, regionally and around the world In the Know................................................................................ 23 Insider “tails,” tidbits and tips Keeper Corner............................................................................ 22 Behind the scenes with the animals

Essentials Animal Spotlight........................................................................ 14 Meet one of the Zoo’s residents Plan Your Visit............................................................................ 10 Mark your calendar Going Green................................................................................ 8 Easy ways to help make our planet a greener place Shoots and Blooms.................................................................... 16 What’s growing on in the Botanical Garden

Features Unearthing a Fiercely Fascinating Find.......................................... 2 Find out why Dinosaurs Around the World is coming to Riverbanks Saving Florida’s Coral Reefs.......................................................... 6 Learn how Riverbanks is helping rescue corals at risk Riverbanks Hours of Operation Open daily 9am - 5pm except Thanksgiving & Christmas day

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is located at 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia SC 29210

Subscriptions to Riverbanks are $24 per year. Members of Riverbanks Society are entitled to one free subscription along with free admission and guest passes, discounts at Zoo & Garden gift shops, Invitations to special events and much more. To subscribe to Riverbanks or to join the Society, visit or call 803.779.8717 and press 1. Riverbanks Magazine Editor - Monique Jacobs Design Direction and Layout - Majken Blackwell Design - Alyssa Castelluccio Contributors - Andy Cabe, Marionna Cane, Syndi Castelluccio, John Davis, Maddy Foley, Amanda Gregory-Keefer, Susan O’Cain, Scott Pfaff, Jennifer Rawlings, Alma Coyle Ruffin, Amanda Segura Contributing Photographers - Ron Brasington, Jo Marie Brown, Andy Cabe, Larry Cameron, Lynn Hunter Hackett, Michael Jones, Richard Rokes, Melodie Scott-Leach, Robin Vondrak Cover Photograph - Abutilon by Majken Blackwell

Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and a member of the American Public Gardens Association.

DIRECTOR’S VIEW In April we celebrated 45 years of family fun and conservation awareness at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Later this month we will celebrate the opening of Dinosaurs Around the World, a one-of-a-kind family fun adventure with a serious conservation message. We are dedicated to protecting animals and the habitats in which they live. We are all intricately connected, and alterations to our ecosystems can have far-reaching and sometimes devasting impacts. Two dozen life-sized, roaring dinosaurs along our riverbanks will generate plenty of buzz and excitement for little kids and big kids-at-heart but also serve as a reminder of why we need to take actions now to prevent extinctions in the future. A present-day example of the need for urgent conservation action is along the Florida coast where numerous species of corals have been negatively affected by a rapidly spreading disease. In an effort to prevent an ecological crisis, Riverbanks and a network of other conservation partners are joining together to protect these threatened corals and the reefs on which they live through the rescue of healthy corals. Riverbanks is providing shelter and care for these corals while scientists study the outbreak and strategize ways to prevent further loss. The outlook for many plants and animals in our world today is uncertain, but we can make a positive impact if we work together. Please join us this summer for Dinosaurs Around the World and discover ways you can make a difference to positively impact our future.

Thomas K. Stringfellow President & CEO





ave you ever imagined what it would be like to walk the earth with dinosaurs? To come face-toface with these incredible creatures? Wonder no more! This summer get ready to be amazed when Dinosaurs Around the World: The Great Outdoors comes alive at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Beginning May 25, Riverbanks will be home to more than 20 life-size, life-like dinosaurs that will reside along the banks of the lower Saluda River. Brave explorers will take a Jurassic journey back in time to the Mesozoic Era and the supercontinent of Pangea when these ancient animals roamed all corners of the globe. Experience some of the fiercest and most iconic dinosaurs of old—from the towering T-Rex to the spectacular Spinosaurus to the crested Crylophosaurus. Touch fossils and other archaeological relics. Discover how dinosaurs lived and how, even today, these prehistoric reptiles serve as great ambassadors for some of the world’s most precious wildlife.

See page 24 for








You may be wondering why the Zoo is showcasing dinosaurs.

Well, simply put, EXTINCTION BITES! Dinosaurs at your Zoo serve as a reminder that extinction is a real possibility for some of the animals living at Riverbanks and their wild counterparts. Your Zoo is home to several animal species that face an uncertain future in the wild. It is Riverbanks’ mission to create meaningful connections and inspire actions that will have a lasting impact on conservation. When you experience Dinosaurs Around the World, you also will embark on an awe-inspiring adventure that will unearth a critical connection between these archaic creatures and some of the most endangered animals of present day. 4


Take the Galapagos tortoise, for instance—a distant relative of the dinosaur—but also a reptile at risk. More than 30 Galapagos tortoises currently live at Riverbanks, ranging in age from 2 to more than 100 years old. Giant tortoises are considered critically endangered, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that less than 3,500 from the Galapagos island of Santa Cruz remain in the wild. Your Zoo contributes to the sustainability of these gentle giants through the Galapagos Tortoise Species Survival Plan®—a breeding and transfer plan among facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Galapagos tortoise is, of course, just one example of animals at risk. Riverbanks’ dinosaur ambassadors, D.A.V.E. (Dinosaur Ambassador on the Verge of Extinction) and Haddie, and all the other prehistoric creatures you will see at Dinosaurs Around the World, serve as an important reminder that there are animals at home and around the globe facing extinction. This underscores the role we all play in safeguarding the earth’s flora and fauna to sustain a healthy and diverse environment.

Just imagine what our world would look like without many of the animals you see and love at Riverbanks… Creating connections and inspiring actions that have a lasting impact on conservation isn’t just our mission, it’s our responsibility. You can be a force for nature—visit Dinosaurs Around the World and take a bite out of extinction!






- Jennifer Rawlings, Aquarium Curator

The third largest reef tract in the world is located right in our backyard, along Florida’s coast. The Florida Reef Tract is approximately 360 linear miles long, stretching from Dry Tortugas National Park west of the Florida Keys to Port St. Lucie. The area is impressive not only in scale, but also in biodiversity; it is critical habitat for many marine animals and home to more than 80 species of coral including seven species that are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Sanctuary and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, have assembled the Florida Coral Rescue Team to strategize and execute the Florida Coral Rescue Plan in an effort to save what remains of the healthy coral stocks. The rescue plan has two goals: 1) to prevent ecological extinction along the Florida Reef Tract for the most vulnerable species, and 2) to maintain as much genetic diversity as possible for 25 priority species in preparation for restoration and possible future habitat disturbances.

In 2014, an unidentified stony coral tissue loss disease was first observed in Miami-Dade County and quickly To meet these goals, Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ spread through the northern (AZA) resources and areas of the Florida Reef professionals have been Tract. The disease has sought out to help state continued to progress rapidly, and federal agencies and most recent reports manage and respond to indicate that the disease is this marine environmental currently south and west of crisis. Riverbanks Zoo & Key West, impacting nearly Garden and other AZA the entire reef tract. This member institutions unprecedented outbreak are collaborating on the is affecting more than half AZA-Florida Reef Tract of the stony coral species, Rescue Project. Riverbanks’ and scientific monitoring particular role is that of indicates that many Florida Primary Holding Facility. Courtesy U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). corals have sustained a 50%This means that live corals 90% reduction in abundance based on species-specific collected from unaffected areas are being sent to the susceptibility to the outbreak. Once a colony becomes Zoo, and we are maintaining these corals while scientific infected, the disease is nearly 100% fatal. Very sadly, studies are taking place to understand the disease and this means it is expected that in a very short time frame, its impact on the Florida Reef Tract. While we already one-third of the coral species found in Florida will become have many coral species at Riverbanks, the fact that these ecologically extinct, leaving nothing more than a few relic corals may be destined for gene-banking or even potential corals dotting the reef. future restoration activities means that we must maintain strict biosecurity measures and cannot introduce these The Florida Reef Tract ecological crisis may be far from corals to corals from other habitats. So for Riverbanks, over, but scientists do have reason to hope, and this is this meant building a whole new holding aquarium behind where Riverbanks and other conservation partners are the scenes! With help from volunteers, maintenance staff playing a part. State and federal agencies, including Florida and animal care staff, we now have two off-exhibit tanks Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National dedicated to housing the corals at risk. Marine Fisheries Service, Florida Keys National Marine At the heart of Riverbanks’ mission is the desire to have a lasting impact on conservation. By participating in this rescue effort, we hope to have a positive impact on the Florida Reef Tract for years to come. 6


10 CORAL REEFS ways to protect

Corals are already a gift. Don’t give them as presents. It takes corals decades or longer to create reef structures, so leave them on the reef.

Long-lasting light bulbs - ARE A -

Choose sustainable seafood.

Energy efficient light bulbs reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is one of the leading threats to coral reef survival.


Learn how to make smart seafood choices at

Coral reefs are alive. Stirred-up sediment can smother corals.

Vo l u n t e e r ! Volunteer in local beach or reef cleanups. If you don't live near the coast, get involved in protecting your watershed.

The less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater that eventually find their ways back into the ocean.

E D U C AT E yourself about coral reefs & the creatures they support.

Practice safe boating. Anchor in sandy areas away from coral and sea grasses so that the anchor and chain do not drag on nearby corals.

BE A MARINE DEBRIS CRUSADER. In addition to picking up your own trash, carry away the trash that others leave behind.

Don’t send chemicals into our waterways. Nutrients from excess fertilizer increases

When you further your own education, you can help others understand the fragility and value of the world's coral reefs.

algae growth that blocks sunlight to corals. Courtesy U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).









A Conservation Necessity

– Amanda Gregory-Keefer, Environmental Services Manager

Last May Riverbanks Zoo & Garden’s Green Team started a conservation and awareness project called Saluda River Sweep. This monthly cleanup effort takes place along both banks of the Saluda flowing between the Zoo and Garden. Riverbanks staff and volunteers collect any debris and then sort, weigh, photograph and document the findings. Our goal is to prevent litter from flowing downstream, from our local watershed to the Charleston Harbor. During our first sweep, we were astonished at the amount of debris we found along the river. Human carelessness was causing unnecessary pollution and dangerous toxicity to marine life, sea birds and people. Not only was it clear that our oceans would be in extreme danger, but also the freshwater resource running through our own backyard was threatened. The sight was devastating to the eye, and it hit us right in the gut. Why is this happening? What are we going to do to stop this? How can we help? These were just a few of the comments I heard as we gazed upon this tremendous problem. Thousands of tiny pieces of Styrofoam and plastics had already broken down into pellet sizes long before they had a chance to reach the Atlantic Ocean. What does this mean for our local fish, bird and mammal


populations? We as a team stood there speechless. It was in that moment we knew that this simple idea of a river sweep needed to become an educational tool for Riverbanks staff, volunteers, guests and our community. During our second sweep, I came across a yellow plastic Easter egg nestled among the river’s reeds. The egg was covered in tiny teeth marks. Once a child’s fond memory, this egg likely turned into a devastating dinner for a river otter. I now keep that plastic egg on my office desk as a daily reminder about why we need to push forward as an organization and community to keep our environment clean. I also use it as a learning tool when explaining to staff the importance of what we want to achieve with our river sweeps.

Our findings uncovered a heep of riverside rubbish:

It takes a village to promote a healthy environment.

Cigarette butts Paper pieces Plastic pieces Styrofoam Glass pieces Plastic food bags Plastic caps and lids Metal beverage cans Plastic straws Glass beverage bottles Plastic beverage bottles Monofilament fishing line Plastic mail box Porch swing Carpet and padding Sports equipment Portable toilet lid Shoes and flip flops Pool floats

The good news

Plywood Schedule 80 PVC pipe

After one year of extensive river sweeps, Riverbanks has saved more than 2,339 pounds of debris from drifting down the Saluda River and making its way to the Atlantic Ocean. And, we have cleaned and recycled more than 862 pounds of rescued refuse.

Wooden bird house 5-gallon buckets Television Light bulbs 50 gallon plastic drums Tarps

Following each sweep, before we haul away our reusable, burlap bags full of litter, the team takes a moment to sit on the river rocks and inhale nature’s beauty. It is a peaceful moment, and we use that quiet time just to be one with our surroundings and feel as accomplished as we can, hoping that one day our goal will come to fruition.

Plastic netting Lawn chairs Sofa Fishing rods and reels Lip balm containers Disposable lighters Plastic deck storage container Aerosol cans

It takes a village to promote a healthy environment, and at Riverbanks we strive to do our best through research, education, conservation, dedication, motivation and hard work. We are excited to continue our river sweeps in 2019 and hope to extract a record amount of rubbish as we educate and inspire our community.






Mark Your Calendars

May 7 | Midlands Gives Day May 12 | Mother’s Day Brunch May 17 | Endangered Species Day May 19 | Bowling for Rhinos May 24 | Members’ Night Out and Dinosaur Preview May 25 | Dinosaurs Around the World opens


June 8 | World Oceans Day June 10 | Summer Zoo Camp begins June 14 | Twilight in the Garden featuring Mary Poppins Returns June 21 | Members’ Night Out

$5 general public $4 Individual & Family members $3 for Explorer, Patron & Gold members Tickets will be available at the gate and all Explorer’s Outposts in the Zoo.


T (803) 602-0900 E W



BOWLING FOR RHINOS May 19 • 6:30 - 9:30pm

@ JC’s Lexington Bowl

All proceeds benefit conservation of rhinos and their habitats. Raffles, door prizes, silent auction & more!

Raffles, door prizes, silent auction & more!

For more information and tickets, visit


Friday, May 17

Join us Saturday, June 8 as we celebrate

World Oceans Day to honor the ocean that connects us all! CREATING CONNECTIONS.

TOGETHER we can complete this picture.




2019 Summer Camp Schedule Week 1 | June 10-14 Week 2 | June 17-21 Week 3 | June 24-28 Week 4 | July 1-5 (No camp on July 4th) Week 5 | July 8-12 Week 6 | July 15-19 Week 7 | July 22-26 Week 8 | July 29-August 2 Week 9 | August 5-9 Week 10 | August 12-16 12



AGES 4 to 5

Time: 9:30am-11:30am, Tuesday-Thursday

Time: 9:00am-12:00pm Full Day Options Available* Cost: $125 members; $155 general public Holiday Week: $100 members; $125 general public EARLY Extended Stay and Play | 7:45am-8:30am for $25 LATE extended Stay and Play is NOT available


Cost: $65 members; $80 general public

AROUND THE POND (Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9)

From cattails and polliwogs to turtles and willow trees, there is an amazing world of life in and around the pond! Let’s explore the unique plants and animals that call the pond home.

CITY CRITTERS (Weeks 2, 6, 8 & 10)

What animals are lurking in our city? Come discover the fascinating secret lives of the critters that live just outside our doors!

WILD SEASONS (WEEKS: 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9)

Do you like to visit the beach in the summer, anticipate snow in the winter, play in the leaves come fall and watch flowers bloom in the spring? Animals and plants change their activities, too! Join the fun as we discover the wonders of each season.

SENSE-ABLE ANIMALS (WEEKS: 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10)

Ever wonder how animals see after dark, hear under the water and feel without fingers? In this “tasteful” camp we will see how humans and animals make “sense” of things as they explore their homes.

FULL DAY OPTIONS Time: 9:00am-4:00pm Cost: $190 members; $240 general public Holiday Week: $150 members; $195 general public EARLY Extended Stay and Play | 7:45am-8:30am for $25 LATE Extended Stay and Play | 4:00-5:30pm for $40

AGES 4 TO 5*

See program descriptions above under half day options


Dive into the amazing world of water as we investigate the water cycle, its properties and animals that call it home. Campers will have a splashing good time learning about sharks, sea turtles, frogs—and lizards that can walk on water!

We can chat with anyone, anywhere, at any time using Facebook, email, cell phones, Instagram and Snapchat. Without these human tools, how do animals get the word out? Join the adventure as we explore the art of communication—animal style. Don’t miss the buzz about this exciting camp!

DIRTY JOBS (WEEKS: 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10)

ZOOBORNS (WEEKS: 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10)

Everyone loves babies! Find out how zoo youngsters spend their first hours, days and years of life. Join the fun as we investigate the colorful world of eggs, wild parenting strategies, life cycles and much more!

AGES 8 TO 10

Get ready to take an excursion across the planet’s strangest yet most amazing islands, as we visit the Galapagos, Madagascar and Australia. Campers will have opportunities to learn how islands are created as well as identify some of the unique creatures that inhabit them. Beware! You just might catch the fever about these mysterious places. CREATING CONNECTIONS.

AGES 11 TO 13

CRITTER TWITTER (WEEKS: 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9)

WATERY WORLD (WEEKS: 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9)

ISLAND FEVER (WEEKS: 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9)

ANIMAL AVIATORS (WEEKS: 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10)

Did you know that birds and bats are not the only frequent flyers in the animal kingdom? Come soar with us as we explore the wonders of ballooning, gliding, parachuting and flying. Discover how aerodynamics makes aviation possible for some very unlikely creatures.

It’s a messy job but someone’s got to do it—and we’re not necessarily talking about shoveling poop! Whether farmers, butchers, builders, beauticians or interior decorators, animals are some of the hardest workers on the planet, and they don’t even get a vacation! Come job shadow ants, lions, cleaning wrasse and various Riverbanks employees this summer as we learn what it takes for these workaholics to succeed. You may even pick up a few job skills along the way!

For more information or to register, please visit






Leaf-tailed Gecko

–Maddy Foley, Herpetology Intern

Uroplatus ebenaui


Least Concern


Near Threatened




Critically Endangered

Extinct in the Wild

Measuring Up

Smaller than most leaf-tailed gecko species, spearpoint leaf-tailed geckos reach up to three inches long.

Where on Earth

Spearpoint leaf-tailed geckos are found only in a small region in northern Madagascar, staying hidden in the leafy undergrowth of the tropical lowlands.

Zoo’s Who

Riverbanks’ spearpoint leaf-tailed geckos can be seen inside the Desert Gallery of the Aquarium-Reptile Complex, right next to other Madagascan species. You may not spot them right away, but keep looking— they are very good at hiding and like to curl up inside of leaves or mimic the foliage around them.

Did You Know?

Riverbanks is currently the only zoo in the United States to care for and exhibit these geckos. They are very uncommon to see in managed care, and it can be difficult to produce offspring. But Riverbanks has an extensive gecko program that individualizes the care needed for each distinct species, and the number of spearpoint leaf-tailed geckos at the Zoo has increased from 6 to over 40, a huge milestone for their population.

Conservation Connection

Spearpoint leaf-tailed geckos are listed as vulnerable due to habitat destruction. The area where they are found in the wild is being targeted for severe land clearance and deforestation, and since these geckos are arboreal, their options for habitable forest grow smaller and smaller. Their numbers decrease as the gecko population becomes fragmented across the devastated forests, but fortunately significant parts of their range are protected by national parks and other government-regulated land.


How You Can Help The best way to help spearpoint leaf-tailed geckos (and all gecko species) is to do your part and advocate for saving rainforests. Learning about global deforestation, donating to environmental causes, and reducing paper waste are all ways you can help these fragile ecosystems.







One of the most talked about plants in the garden over the last several years has been Abutilon ‘Biltmore Ballgown’, a variety of a perennial commonly known as flowering maple (but not actually a maple). The pendulous, tigerstriped flowers adorn the plant from summer to fall. In mild winters, the plant will remain evergreen and continue to bloom. It grows best in sun and can reach 5 feet tall!

FRESH from the Garden Fairies and Fireflies

May 10 | 6:30pm - 8:00pm $15 per child (adults are free) Glow and sparkle as we discover the magic behind summer fireflies during this fun evening in Waterfall Junction. Enjoy games, activities, crafts, and fairy house building as we celebrate the season of fairies and fireflies! Activities are geared to children ages 3 to 10.

Container Class

May 18 |10:00am - noon $40 per person While growing plants in a container can be easier than growing them in the ground, there are many factors to consider in creating a beautiful container. This workshop will cover container basics, how to keep them healthy, points of consideration when shopping and design techniques to create a gorgeous arrangement. Everyone will leave with a grouping of plants for either a sun or shade container (select your preference at registration).

Family Ice Cream Social June 1 | 1:00pm - 2:30pm $8 per person Start off the summer with homemade ice cream using ingredients from our garden! Learn how to use fresh fruit, mint and other herbs to create some tasty ice cream. Enjoy games and activities for children as well.

F O R M O R E I N F O R M AT I O N O R T O R E G I S T E R , V I S I T W W W.R I V E R B A N K S.O R G



In Bloom MAY

• Roses and larkspur continue to shine with a variety of pastel shades. • Allium bulbs begin to bloom with huge, bold, purple flowers. • Bottlebrush flowers attract bees and other insects.


• Look for bold pinks and reds of hibiscus flowers. • Bright yellows of black-eyed Susan and swamp sunflowers appear. • Tropical foliage of banana plants and elephant ears flourishes. • Lots of colorful summer annuals add interest to the beds. • Snowball viburnum shows off its big white blooms. • Hydrangeas are covered in white and blue flowers.

TIPS PROS from the

Whether you’re a gardening guru or just digging in, Riverbanks’ growing experts have “The Dirt” on planting all year long. Check out our ongoing features on “The Dirt” via Facebook or YouTube for simple solutions and a few tricks of the trade.


• Remove and replace winter annuals with varieties for spring and summer.

• Remember to deadhead your annuals (removing spent flowers) to keep them blooming nicely.

• Stake tall perennials that tend to flop. • As the weather warms, remember to water! Watering less frequently but with a longer duration helps roots go deeper into the soil, which helps plants get more moisture in periods of drought. • Plant containers for summer.








Making a LOCAL IMPACT on



- Marionna Cane, Mammal Keeper, Hoofstock

s a participant in the Riverbanks Field Conservation Associates program, I had the opportunity to aid in the reintroduction and conservation of South Carolina’s native gopher tortoise population at Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve. The goal of this project is to cultivate a healthy population of gopher tortoises within the preserve, monitor the status of the individuals, and work with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to restore and protect their vital longleaf pine habitat. The founding members of the tortoise population are unknown, so health monitoring isa vital part of this project. Riverbanks is also helping to develop a head start program for these tortoises through which we raise hatchlings until they reach an age and size that will ensure a higher rate of survival in the wild before releasing them. My task as a Riverbanks Field Conservation Associate was to locate and tag burrows dug by the tortoises throughout the dense pine habitat of the preserve. Using a flexible camera, I would first scope the burrows, which can be up to 30 feet long, to determine if they were occupied. If so, we set a trap at the entrance and waited. And waited. And waited some more. These tortoises have the amazing ability to go days, weeks, and even months without food or water! In fact, a few of our traps that were set in May remained empty throughout the entire summer. However, we were ultimately successful in trapping and screening a total of 115 tortoises this year.






“really will IMPACT

Our ACTIONS today the FUTURE.



I am excited to share the message of this project with others. The work I conducted challenged me both mentally and physically, and I learned many new and valuable skills that I am eager to apply in my current role as a mammal keeper at Riverbanks and when participating in future conservation projects. The experience allowed me to learn important field techniques, gave me more confidence to work independently, and reinforced my belief in the importance of conservation. Our actions today really will impact the future. All over the world, there are plants and animals that need our help. They are faced with habitat loss, poaching and conflict with humans. Yet, it was important to me to make a local impact by helping the native gopher tortoise species in South Carolina. It is the only tortoise species living in the southeastern United States, and it once inhabited the entire state of South Carolina. Now limited to only three counties in the state, conservation of the species is critical. Thanks to my experience with Riverbanks’ Field Conservation Associates program, I am committed to sharing my story by educating and inspiring others in the community to join me in conserving native flora and fauna.

All over

the world,

there are plants and animals that need our help.

Riverbanks is proud to support such outstanding conservation work. CREATING CONNECTIONS.





AMELIA Growing FAST - Marionna Cane, Mammal Keeper, Hoofstock

The youngest member of Riverbanks Zoo’s giraffe herd isn’t quite so little anymore. Weighing in at nearly 500 pounds and standing 9 feet tall, Amelia the giraffe is growing up quickly! Born on April 2, 2018, Amelia weighed only 93 pounds and measured 5 feet 7 inches tall. She was the first giraffe born at Riverbanks since 2012. Amelia is the third calf for mom, Ginger, although she more closely resembles dad, Bruce, who is a now a father for the first time. Amelia can be seen most days exploring and running around her habitat. Her favorite activities include mimicking her fellow herd mates, munching on lettuce and meeting Zoo guests at the feeding platform. She has been eating solid foods such as grain, lettuce and various types of browse for several months, while still mostly relying on Mom’s milk to sustain her growing body. As she matures, she will be weaned off milk completely. Luckily, Amelia is just tall enough to reach the public feeding platform, where she can use her long tongue to grab her favorite tasty treat—kale. Currently, she eats 5 pounds of grain a day, which is about half of what the adult females in the herd eat. As she continues to grow, she will reach a towering height of 14 to 16 feet, and her tongue will be able to reach an impressive 21 inches in length! Amelia is a very social giraffe and interacts with the Zoo’s animal care professionals often. She is learning to come to her keepers when called and touch a target pole with her nose. By targeting, her caretakers can perform routine health check-ups and train her to stand on a scale so that they can track her development as she grows up. Reticulated giraffes are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species. Their population has been declining due to habitat loss, poaching and conflict with humans. Riverbanks’ herd includes a total of eight giraffes, ranging from one year old Amelia to Sharon, who is turning 20 years old this year! Like a human fingerprint, each giraffe has a unique pattern unlike any other individual. See if you can spot the difference between our giraffes on your next visit to Riverbanks!




- John Davis, Director of Animal Care & Welfare

Riverbank Zoo & Garden is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is proud to display the AZA logo posted at the entry to both the Zoo and Garden and on the Zoo’s website. To most Zoo visitors, the accreditation emblem is something like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval, but they may not be aware that maintaining AZA accreditation is a very rigorous process. Whether a zoo is being accredited for the first time or has maintained accreditation for many years, all go through the same process every 5 years to ensure compliance with evolving accreditation standards.


They spend 3 to 4 days at the zoo, and using the application materials and accreditation standards as a guide evaluate animal care, welfare and management, veterinary care, physical facilities, safety, security, finance, staff, governing authority, support organization, involvement in education, conservation and research, and adherence to AZA policies. Staff members also can expect and should be prepared to be selected for an interview by the inspection team, asking questions, sometimes tricky ones, about their knowledge of certain zoo procedures or what their role is during a weather-related Accreditationemergency, for example.

There are approximately 2,800 the GREAT seal animal exhibitors licensed by After the inspection is complete, the the United States Department of inspectors write a detailed report of approval! Agriculture to display animals, but about everything they observed and fewer than 10 percent (or currently submit it, along with pictures, to the 233) are accredited zoos and aquariums that adhere to Accreditation Commission. The 12-member elected group the rigorous requirements set forth by the AZA. Zoos of experts meets twice per year to consider all candidates and aquariums applying for AZA accreditation undergo for accreditation. They serve as the final review for a a thorough and lengthy written application, an intense zoo’s application; the inspection team’s final report and comprehensive multiple-day on-site inspection, before reaching their decision to accredit or deny, but not followed by an in-person interview with the Accreditation before completing an in-person interview with the zoo or Commission. aquarium’s Director or President/CEO. In 2015, Riverbanks received the Quarter of a Century award for maintaining 25 years of continuous accreditation by AZA. With a little over a year remaining, we are already preparing our application and making sure our facilities are ready for spring 2020 accreditation inspection when a 4-member inspection team arrives to perform the full “white glove” zoo review. Each team includes at least one veterinarian along with animal care and welfare and zoo operations experts from other AZA-accredited zoos, who are knowledgeable about the accreditation procedure and AZA standards. CREATING CONNECTIONS.

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are constantly evolving, and the bar is continuously being raised. Riverbanks and the other 233 accredited zoos must keep up with these changes, assuring the highest standards of animal care and conservation education while ensuring a quality experience for guests. To all of us who are fortunate to work in an AZA-accredited zoo, the accreditation process is more than just a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Instead, it is a GREAT seal of approval—and for our guests, that means it is a great zoo!




Friday, May 24 & June 21 • 6pm - 9pm

It’s FREE, after-hours and for members only! Parking at the main Zoo entrance only. Valid membership card and ID required. (No guest passes, please.)




Give Kids a Smart Start to Saving!

presented by

Our youth savings club teaches kids 1-10 good money habits for life. How? By making it fun.

June 14 • 6pm Cool off in the Splash Zone at Waterfall Junction from 6:00pm until dusk. Then roll out a blanket and catch a movie at the Garden’s amphitheater. Tickets available at

Activity sheets I got the

Coloring books Prizes for saving FREE Bugg Club tees

Official sponsor of Grandma’s Garden and Twilight in the Garden

Enroll your child at any Grow Financial store.1 Summerville

1585 Central Avenue, Suite C1 843.285.4424


9514 Dorchester Road, Suite 102 843.285.4424

Village at Sandhill 163 Forum Drive, Suite 1 803.705.3121


805 Highway 378 803.705.3121

Membership required–Subject to eligibility. Membership requires purchasing a share in the credit union for $1.00. 1 A valid Social Security card for minors is required to open a Basic Savings Account.

Insured by NCUA


SPECIAL OFFER Now for a limited time you can adopt * a giraffe for $100. Gift Pack Includes...


CT PE RFE r Gift fo D! A D r o MOM

• Wild Child portfolio • Personalized certificate • Plush giraffe Plus your contribution helps care for giraffes at Riverbanks! To Or d er Vi s i t *Adoption is symbolic only





riverbanks society 500 Wildlife Parkway Columbia, SC 29210-8014

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage


Columbia, S.C. Permit No. 90

Friday, August 2 | 7:00 - 9:30pm

Tickets on Sale June 1 w w w. riverba n

Profile for Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Riverbanks magazine - May/June 2019  

Volume XXXVIII, Number 3

Riverbanks magazine - May/June 2019  

Volume XXXVIII, Number 3