Support Us Button Widget

Riverbanks Zoo celebrates its golden anniversary

Riverbanks Zoo celebrates its 50th anniversary with a Golden Ticket giveaway. Learn about its history, present attractions like the new Boyd Aquarium, and future plans including the Bridge to the Wild expansion.


Take our quiz for a chance to win the golden ticket. | Photo by COLAtoday

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is celebrating its golden anniversary with golden tickets throughout the Midlands, and one lucky COLAtoday reader will be the recipient. What’s the ticket good for? You’ll have to scratch it to find out.

Before we get into the details of how you can win the Golden Ticket, let’s take a quick look at the zoo through the years.

Zoo Planning.jpeg

Zoo director John Mertans examining plans in 1970. | Photo via Richland Library Digital Archive


Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, one of the most successful mid-sized zoos in the country, attracts over one million visitors each year and is supported by more than 45,000 member households. The idea began in the early 1960s with a group of local businessmen proposing a children’s zoo. The South Carolina General Assembly established the Rich-Lex Riverbanks Park Special Purpose District in 1969, leading to the zoo’s opening on April 25, 1974.

A preview of the desert biome at the new Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center.

The renovations were made possible through support from The Boyd Foundation, transforming it into a state-of-the-art animal care facility.

Photo provided by Riverbanks Zoo and Garden


Today, Riverbanks continues to innovate. The new Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center offers an immersive experience. Guests can explore temperate and tropical forests, trek through the desert, and wind their way from land to sea.


Rendering of a new restaurant that would overlook the orangutan exhibit + the Saluda River | Photo provided by Riverbanks Zoo


Riverbanks Zoo is expanding its Bridge to the Wild project into Phase 2. Phase 1, initiated in 2019, brought infrastructure improvements and the new Boyd Aquarium & Reptile Conservation Center. Phase 2 plans include:

  • River development and a new restaurant overlooking the Saluda River
  • A new orangutan exhibit
  • A new South Carolina nature and history preserve
  • Aerial trams and new walkways
  • Habitats for black bears, red wolves, and bald eagles

The golden ticket

Here’s your chance to win by taking our Golden Ticket Giveaway quiz. Answer these three questions correctly and we’ll choose a random winner for the golden ticket that could include anything from family four-packs of general admission tickets to behind-the-scenes tours + rare opportunities — think: creating enrichment activities for meerkats.

More from COLAtoday