Adorable Galapagos turtles and cute Komodo dragons babies, Riverbanks Zoo’s newest exhibits

We finally got to see the baby Galapagos tortoises that came with a big bang last fall. They are adorable…tiny and clumsy on their little feet, is hard to believe they will grow to weigh almost a ton! The hatchlings are on display inside the Aquarium, and as a bonus, next to them is a pair of Komodo Dragons juveniles that were born at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Galapagos baby tortoises, a welcome addition to the reptiles exhibit

Biggest surprise of the century! 100 years old Galapagos turtles giving birth at Riverbanks Zoo.

Here are the proudest parents at the zoo: mom, Alberta, came to the United States in 1951 as an adult and dad, Abrazzo, arrived in 1928, also as an adult. Riverbanks Zoo acquired the pair in 1995. Both are believed to be over 100 years old…love is truly timeless.

Alberta and Abrazzo

The happy couple

While at the zoo be a dare devil and try your acrobatic skills at Sky-High Safari, a 44-foot high vertical ropes challenge ($7 per climb, $5 for members).

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Riverbanks Zoo Enrichment Day: wild fun, special treats, free activities and funny moments

On September 25th the Riverbanks Zoo celebrated its animals and visitors with special treats, surprises and fun activities for kids. The event was free with zoo admission ($11.75 adults, $10.75 seniors and military, and $9.25 children 3-12). Here are the highlights:

Fun stuff for kids
Feed Little Boy, the zoo’s only American alligator. Visitors who bid and won this “behind the scene” adventure got to participate in the alligator training session. They were literally feet away from the crocodilian monster!

Children get up close to Little Boy

A real special treatment...getting to feed Little Boy, the Riverbanks Zoo alligator

Kids made their own craft using pasta shells, string and construction paper and also got a free tattoo.

Make your own pasta craft

Fun free activities for kids at Riverbanks Zoo

Kids got to learn more about animals at the zoo, touch a bear skull and claw, cayman teeth and leathery skin, etc.

Hands on learning at Riverbanks Zoo special Enrichment Day

These are some very big teeth!

Animal treats
The grizzly bears seemed the most pleased with their watermelon and molasses covered boxes.

I have a sweet tooth...

The grizzly bears love their sweet treats on Riverbanks Zoo Enrichment Day

Chalka, the silverback gorilla, was intrigued by his colorful snack tube filled with goodies.

Chalka is happy with his new edible toy

Hmmmm, what can it be?

This youngster giraffe couldn’t pull away from the tree. Most likely the zoo staff covered the bark with a delicious treat, as he kept licking and licking it…

Funny baby giraffe playing at the zoo

Peek-a-boo! Giraffe playing hide and seek at the zoo

The lion got a little frustrated trying to open his present filled with tantalizing smelling meat. Eventually he hauled in the cave to “finish” it off in private.

Lions enjoy new toys special treats at Riverbanks Zoo

Reveal yourself to me says the Lion King

Although we missed the elephant feeding session we still got to see the ladies giving themselves a nice mud spa treatment.

Riverbanks Zoo Enrichment Day

As you get older you need to take good care of your skin...

Big and small, feathers and fur all animals got a special treat on Enrichment Day. This exotic bird enjoyed a fresh juicy orange.

Exotic bird enjoys new fruit at Riverbanks Zoo

I love oranges!

The male baboon will take no chances! He claimed this treat as his very own.

Claiming the colorful prize Riverbanks Zoo Enrichment Day

This treat is mine!

While at the zoo take the free trolley to the Botanical Gardens filled with hundreds of flowers, ornamental plants, trees, spices and funky art. There is a special children’s garden and a nice shaded playground.

Mark your calendar for the Boo at the Zoo, a Riverbanks Zoo & Garden Halloween Spooktacular! October 14-16 and 21-30, 6-9PM. Tickets are $6 members ($8 regular admission).

Hello Columbia! Most adorable baby baboon is playing at Riverbanks Zoo

“I want to hug her!” my daughter kept yelling. That’s when you know you found cute. C’mon look at these big ears, little pink rump pads and round sparkling eyes!

Yara, the baby baboon is the new Hamadryas star at Riverbanks Zoo, which hasn’t had one for over 25 years.

Riverbanks zoo most adorable animal babies

She is cute as a button!

While mom Imi and dad Makale enjoy a relaxing grooming session, baby Yara busies herself chasing and chewing on a pine cone. It’s so good to see them at peace together, last time Imi had a baby it didn’t turned out well…

Amazing monkey photos

Happy family moments at Riverbanks Zoo

Here, delight yourself with some Yara cuteness…

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden admission is:
• Adults $11.75
• Children (3-12) $9.25 (under 3 get in FREE)
• Military and seniors $10.75
• Combo pass $28.75 (per person) includes zoo admission and unlimited rides

See more Riverbanks Zoo babies pictures.

New at Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia wild fun thing to do!

I haven’t been to Riverbanks since the “Lights Before Christmas” event. Last Saturday my daughter and I braved the crowds and the heat to see what’s new at the zoo.

Newest exhibit: Kangaroo Walkabout
Although is hard to replace the feisty sea lions (remember Big Boy?) the kangaroos and wallabies held their own on the fun factor. Kids love to get close (really close!) to the strange looking creatures. The are two staff guides that monitor the animals and are happy to answer questions.

Red Necked Wallabies – Wallabies are the smaller cousins of the kangaroos.

Columbia Zoo newest exhibit

Happy to sit next to young wallabies

The red-necked wallaby is the largest of all the wallabies.

Like kangaroos, wallabies get around by hopping and raise young in a pouch in the female’s belly. They spend the dawn and dusk hours eating grasses and other plants, and rest during broad daylight.

Red-Necked Wallabies have been killed for their fur and because they eat same grass as sheep.

Red Kangaroos – Males are called “boomers”, females “flyers” and the young are called “joeys”. Kangaroos can live up to 20 years of age.

Handsome young male Columbia Zoo

Is fun watching the kangaroos only feet away

In the wild, males live lot less than females (5-10 years vs. 10-15 years) due to constant fighting with other males and their mostly solitary life.

An adult male red kangaroo can weigh 200 pounds and grow to be 5 feet tall, truly remarkable considering at birth he is as big as a jelly bean!

Kangaroos are mostly nocturnal. During the day they cope with the heat by licking their wrists.

They can hop over 6 feet tall fences, leap over 25 feet and reach speeds of 30 mph! When threatened, kangaroos stomp the ground with their hind legs and thump with their tales. They can deliver a powerful kick if necessary!

The Gorilla exhibit is still a family favorite. There is renewed interest after the short yet exciting escapade last year and the sad departure of Kimya, the youngest male, this year.

Silverback gorilla survivor Columbia zoo

The one gorilla who did not get away...


2010 Price and Food Updates:

Admission is now $11.75 adults, $9.25 children (under 3 get in FREE), $10.75 military and seniors. There is a new $28.75 (per person) Combo Pass that includes admission and unlimited rides.

Really cute meerkat Riverbanks Zoo

The Meerkat Manor of Columbia!


There are 2 new “Explorer” membership options, $99 individual and $149 family, which provide unlimited rides and attractions on top of the usual benefits.

See all the details here.

You can get a $20 Day Pass for unlimited rides and feedings. The price for each individual attraction has not changed ($5 pony ride, $2 train ride, $2 3D Theater, $1 carousel, and $1 giraffe and lorikeet feeding).

Best place to eat is still the Kenya cafe, which is open year around and offers indoor A/C seating. All grill meals include french fries and cost around $4. Choose from burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, chicken and BBQ sandwiches. There are grab-and-go salads, deli sandwiches, yogurt, fruits and more.

Stay wild, be cool at the Riverbanks Zoo!

Spring Camp at the Zoo, the most fun thing you can do

If you’re still pondering where to take and what to do with kids this Spring break, look no further than Riverbanks Zoo. Check their website for a monthly events calendar and a varitety of Zooventure family activities.

Below is the April 2009 summary of fun packed children programs grouped by age.

Welcome kids!

Welcome kids!

Riverbanks Zoo Little Kids Programs(ages 3-5)

Pony Pals – Friday, April 3, 9 – 10AM, $16 (plus admission for general public)
Meet the Shetland ponies upclose and personal! Feed, brush and ride the ponies. Parent participation is required for this class (one parent per child). Online registration is required.

Easter Brunch – Sunday, April 12, 10:30AM – 1PM, $31.95 adults / $15.95 children ages 3-12 (plus admission for general public)
Treat your loved ones to a hearty Easter Sunday brunch in the rustic Ndoki Lodge at the Zoo. Enjoy a traditional Southern breakfast or choose from custom-ordered omelets, honey glazed ham, grilled salmon, chicken piccatta, fresh vegetables, fruits and gourmet desserts. Seating is limited, reservation deadline is Tuesday, April 7. Order tickets here.

Kids admiring a silverback gorilla

Kids admiring a silverback gorilla

A Camping We Will Go – April 23, 25 and 29, 10AM for kids age 2 and 11AM for ages 3-4, $9 (plus admission for general public)
Bring a flashlight and sleeping bag, too, because camping is the thing to do! What animals you will encounter on your camping adventure? Come and find out! Register for class here.

Riverbanks Zoo Big Kids Programs(5 years and older)

Pony Whisperer – Saturday, April 4, 8:30-10AM (ages 5-7), $18 (plus admission for general public)
Learn how to feed, groom and care for the ponies! Parent participation is required for this class (one parent per child please). Online registration is required.

Riding on Caroline at Riverbanks Zoo

Riding on Caroline at Riverbanks Zoo

ZOOm! into Spring Camp (ages 6 to 10) – Monday through Wednesday April 6-8, 9AM – 3PM, $110 members ($140 general public)
Discover how plants and animals celebrate the spring season during 3 days packed with hands-on activities, animal encounters, behind-the-scenes tours, arts and crafts, and tons of games! More details here.

Scout Saturdays – Saturday, April 18, $10 per scout (plus admission for general public)
Scout Saturdays includes a short education program, live animal encounters and a self-guided zoo adventure tour. Any scout group or individual scout can register (each child needs to be registered separately). Free for accompanying adults. Participants receive a Riverbanks Wildlife Patch.
Online registration here . Learn more on the Riverbanks website.

Family on Safari Overnight Camp – Saturday, April 18, 7PM – 9AM, $39 per member ($44 general public)
Experience the Zoo at night! Enjoy a night of games, activities and behind-the-scenes tours. Families should bring their own sleeping gear and tents and sense of adventure. Price includes light snack and continental breakfast. Register for class here.

Pet a Giant Turtle!

Pet a Giant Turtle!

Party for the Planet – Saturday, April 25
Join Riverbanks Zoo party for planet and animals featuring kid-friendly conservation activities and animal enrichment. Free with regular zoo admission.

Everything sounds Zoolicious!

Amazing animal pictures: crazy holler monkeys, lost gorillas, melancholic orangutans and feisty baboons

What a year 2008 has been. Lots of chest beating, hollering and hair pulling, hanging upside down, crying, whimpering, and laughing out loud. No, is not the stock market. No Wall Street or Main Street here.

I’m talking about the most incredible animals at the Riverbanks, Greenville and Como zoos. A “planet of the apes” filled with soul searching – and sometimes very naughty – gorillas and adorable baby orangutans.

Loud singing at Riverbanks Zoo

Loud singing at Riverbanks Zoo

Noisy la-la land holler monkeys screaming and fighting all day long. “American Idol” pop diva baboons, always grooming and posing for pictures.

Here are the photos, you be the judge:

Naughty, naughty gorilla. Hope Santa brought her a sack of coal.

Kiss my...gorilla at Como Zoo

Kiss my...gorilla at Como Zoo

Let the singing competition begin. Bring it on!

I'm so good looking

I'm so good looking

Wise-man orangutan, the largest tree dwelling mamal in the world…

The Man of the Forest

The Man of the Forest

Kids are always fascinated by the big silverback. Who’s watching who?

So close yet so far away

So close yet so far away

Sometimes you just feel like acting silly

Holler monkey Riverbanks Zoo

Mr. Alligator Can't Catch Me!

Bring your kids to the zoo, the most fun thing you can do!

Riverbanks “Lights Before Christmas”: Snow, marshmallows, Santa, train rides and dazzling lights magic

Every year we come to Riverbanks Zoo to experience the Lights Before Christmas. It’s a fun evening, especially for kids. The whole park is lit up, there is laughter, joy and the smell of Christmas.

Christmas Village

Christmas Village

What kids love to do at the zoo
1. Play in the “snow” and chase falling snow-soap flakes. This is as close as it gets to a white Christmas around here.

It's snowing mom!

It's snowing mom!

2. Ride the mini train. Here is the Spots and Stripes Railroad video from last summer ($2 per person)

3. Ride the Merry-go-around ($1 per kid)

4. Cooking marshmallows over the coal burning fire. You get 4 on a stick ($2)

Marshmallows Time!

Marshmallows Time!

5. Run, climb and slide at the playground. In fact that whole area is great to let your kids loose. There is also the carousel, marshmallows fire, restrooms and food stands.

Fun things for parents
1. Get a Starbucks coffee or hot-cocoa. The hut is strategically positioned right by the entrance.

2. Stay in line with the kids for a moment with Santa. It seems grown-ups are more enchanted photographing their prodigy in Santa’s lap than the children do. When asked what she wants for Christmas mine replied “A lollipop!”…now you tell me?

What you want for Christmas?

What you want for Christmas?

3. Cooking marshmallows…yep we like it too!

The Lights Before Christmas event is open till December 30 every day until 9PM (except on Christams Eve and Christmas Day). Admission is $8 adults, $6 children 3-12 and free for kids under 3. Members get a one time free entrance to the event.

Lion King at the zoo

Lion King at the zoo

Merry Christmas!