Riverbanks set to open Aquarium and Reptile Conservation Center

A journey from land to sea


A rendering for the outside of the new Conservation Center | Photo provided by Riverbanks Zoo

The new Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center at Riverbanks Zoo is opening on Thursday, March 2.

Guests can expect to see close-up encounters of wildlife, care + conservation efforts that the zoo plays a part in, and propagation of coral species inside of a new coral conversation lab.

The new aquarium project took four years from concept to completion and is the second project in phase one of Riverbanks’ plan to build a Bridge to the Wild. Bridge to the Wild will transform both sides of the Saluda River into the state’s leading conservation resource.

Here is what you can expect when it opens and some of the animals you’ll see.

Conservation Labs

  • The labs will showcase conservation work that was previously only experienced during behind-the-scenes tours.
  • Coral labs will showcase corals rescued off the Southern coast of Florida near Key West.
  • Terrestrial labs will allow guests to see endangered reptiles and amphibians from across the world and highlight Riverbanks’ work supporting the gecko population.

New Desert Biome

  • The desert biome highlights arid climates in the Western hemisphere, focusing mostly on the desert southwest.
  • The biome features desert dwellers like tortoises, rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, thick-billed parrots, and burrowing owls.

More Highlights

  • Look forward to views of reptilians like the alligator snapping turtle, cottonmouth, bushmaster, and green anaconda.
  • A wall of moon jellies
  • A giant Pacific octopus named Susan (in honor of Susan Boyd and her favorite animal)

The new Reptile Conservation Center will be open during normal hours and will be included with general admission and membership. And don’t forget, admission to the zoo is free on Fridays through February for Lexington and Richland County residents.