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Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Forty Wild Years

Palmer "Satch" Krantz

Publication Year: 2014

Recognized today as one of America’s best zoos, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has become one of Columbia, South Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations and one of the most visited zoos in the southeastern United States. Riverbanks celebrates its fortieth anniversary on April 25, 2014. Over the last four decades both the zoo and the garden have been honored with many regional and national awards for excellence. Among its many accolades, Riverbanks has received five prestigious Edward H. Bean Awards from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, most recently in 2011 for the long-term breeding and conservation of the endangered Bali mynah. Riverbanks also has been honored with three Travel Attraction of the Year Awards by the Southeast Tourism Society and two Governor’s Cup Awards by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism as the state’s Most Outstanding Attraction. Riverbanks Botanical Garden has received praise by Horticulture magazine as one of ten gardens that inspire and by HGTV as one of twenty great public gardens in the United States. What began in the mid-1960s as a modest dream of a few business leaders to create a small children’s petting zoo has evolved into today’s nationally ranked Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, visited by more than one million guests annually and supported by a membership base of more than thirty-three thousand households. Riverbanks is home to more than two thousand animals, which reside in natural habitat exhibits with barriers that are designed to create an environment almost totally free of bars and cages. Much like the zoo itself, this book features extraordinary animals, dynamic natural habitats, and significant historic landmarks. Riverbanks’s rich history is captured here through anecdotal stories and nearly two hundred brilliant photographs and illustrations, making it easy to see why Riverbanks is recognized as one of the nation’s great zoological parks and botanical gardens. Readers will discover some of the world’s most magnificent and fascinating plants and animals that call Riverbanks home, while gaining a deeper understanding of how a midsized zoo gained world-class status as it pursued its mission: to foster an appreciation and concern for all living things.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I always tell people, “If you haven’t been to the zoo in thirty years, you’ve missed some big changes.” Modern, accredited zoological institutions have transformed themselves into centers of conservation science; they have become sophisticated educators; they are drivers of tourism and the economy; ...

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pp. xi-xiv

Three years ago Jonathan Haupt, then interim director and now director of the University of South Carolina Press, contacted Monique Jacobs, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s membership and communications manager, with an idea. Jonathan and his wife, Lorene, have been Riverbanks Society members since they first moved to South Carolina in 2004. ...

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pp. xv-xvi

Throughout its forty-year history, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has taken pride in the exceptional teamwork that has helped lead to its success. This book would not have been possible without the collective expertise, details, and images provided by staff, volunteers, and members of the community. ...

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Introduction: An Award-winning Zoo and Garden

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pp. 1-10

Recognized today as one of America’s best zoos, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden began in the early 60s as the dream of a handful of Columbia-area business leaders, who envisioned a small children’s zoo featuring cows, chickens, raccoons, and other native wildlife. ...

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Chapter 1. The Early Years

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pp. 11-30

In 1897 the fifteen-acre Hyatt Park opened in Eau Claire, the city’s first suburban neighborhood. The park, developed by North Carolina–born Frederick H. Hyatt, featured a two-story pavilion, or “casino,” with a five-hundred-seat auditorium for vaudeville performances and concerts. ...

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Chapter 2. Turning a Dream into Reality

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pp. 31-62

Community persistence for the Riverbanks Park continued, and in April 1969 a bill was introduced to the state legislature to create the South Carolina Riverbanks Parks Commission. The bill passed on June 17, and a few weeks later, on July 11, 1969, Secretary of State O. Frank Thornton swore in the first Riverbanks Parks Commission: ...

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Chapter 3. Picking Up Momentum

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pp. 63-92

Riverbanks Zoo received a major public relations boost when the December 1976 issue of Family Circle hit newsstands. The magazine included a two-page article titled “A Zoo’s Who,” by Jean Anderson, and this changed forever how Columbians felt about their new zoo. The piece was really nothing more than a subjective compilation of the thirteen “best” zoos in the United States. ...

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Chapter 4. Animal Care and Conservation

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pp. 93-130

Zoo animal medicine was still in its infancy when Riverbanks opened in 1974. At the time most zoos did not employ a full-time veterinarian, relying instead on one or more consulting veterinarians. These were mostly local veterinarians who lacked any kind of formal exotic animal medical training ...

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Chapter 5. The New Zoo

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pp. 131-162

In the early 1990s Earl Wells, the late director of the Ft. Wayne Children’s Zoo in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, had a wonderfully creative concept. He was looking for a way to generate revenue for his zoo yet wanted to do so in a fun and educational way. ...

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Chapter 6. Into the Future

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pp. 163-172

In 2008 the University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management conducted a comprehensive study to determine the annual financial contributions of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden on the economy of Richland and Lexington Counties. The report illustrated the economic impact of both tourism and operational spending ...


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pp. 173-175

E-ISBN-13: 9781611173123
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611173116

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2014