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Lions, Tigers and….Prairie Dogs?

Zoos! Probably one of my favourite places to go, no matter what city, state, country. And now that I have a child, I have a great excuse to go! There may not be one in the Greater Charleston area, but if you don’t mind packing up the kids and driving an hour and a half ,then you HAVE to make a trip to Columbia, South Carolina to visit the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden.

My daughter turned two at the end of February and my in-laws were coming into town for her birthday, so I though ‘Hey! Why don’t we go to the Zoo for her birthday’. Mind you, I have not been to this zoo in probably ten years. Of what I remember, it was tiny and slightly run down-but hey Audrey is only two and probably won’t remember it.

Lions, Tigers and….Prairie Dogs?v

Audrey and Dad feeding the giraffes

When we pulled up to the parking lot, all I could think was this zoo got an amazing face lift and I’m only in the parking lot!

When you arrive, you are shown by staff where to park, which I find very helpful because who wants to spend ten minutes driving around looking for a spot. You then follow the crowd to either the stairs or the elevators to the pedestrian bridge that crosses over train tracks.

Once you get into the zoo, the hardest decision you will have to make is-do I go right or left? We started left and the first thing we did was called ‘Walk with the Roos’. It was this enclosure that houses three kangaroos that are out in the open and you walk this path right in the middle. It is so neat to be able to be that close to an animal! But not to worry, there is a staff member in the enclosure as well. And of course Audrey’s favorites were the elephants and the prairie dogs (mine too, they are so cute!)

Riverbanks Zoo has all of the typical animals; gorillas, elephants, giraffes, but each enclosure feels very interactive and informative. Not only do the placards give you background on the animals and where they come from, but also if the species is endangered. It also explains they got to be that way and how we can save them. The zoo also has plenty of rides and attractions that cater to all ages. You can ride the train, feed the giraffes and birds, and even rock climb. Not to mention the fun demonstrations that several different animals put on throughout the day.

The zoo’s options for food are catered towards children, offering chicken tenders, pizza, and burgers at several different locations with seating. They also have a few kiosks that offer snacks and cold sweets.

All in all, it’s a wonderful day trip to make with the children and you will be quite surprised when you look at your watch to see that you have spent four hours in the zoo. Expect wide-eyed wonderment, lots of giggles and a zonked out passenger on your way home as a sign of a great time!

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