Monday, November 5, 2012

Riverbanks Zoo – Columbia, SC

Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day, so we got up early to go to 8:30am mass at St. Peter’s in downtown Columbia.

st peters_3

The church is one of the oldest in South Carolina, and it is really beautiful inside.

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We were especially impressed with the music and the choir.  You would have thought we were at a Broadway play . . .  the singers were that good!



After mass, we had a quick breakfast and then made our way over to the Zoo.  We had heard lots of good things about it, and figured we’d spend a few hours there.


We started at Ape Island, where these guys were making a huge racket – swinging and yelling at the top of their lungs!


Surrounding Ape Island were the Lions and the Tigers.


The tiger kept pacing around his habitat, but the lion just laid there, watching everybody go by.


One nice thing about this Zoo was the number of exhibits where you could actually interact with the animals.  One was this parrot house, where you went inside the cage with them.   DSC_0345

Tom really wanted one of the parrots to land on him, but he didn’t have the magic touch, a.k.a. nectar cup . . .

The parrots were flying all around, but Tom only got 1 or 2 to land on his arm for a second or two – never long enough for me to get a picture.


This lady was full of birds, though . . . but her nice orange sweater was also full of bird crap!


After the parrots, we stopped to see the koalas, but this little guy wasn’t ready to be up yet, I guess!  DSC_0371










We took a quick trip through the Riverbank Farm, where we saw domestic farm animals – like this goat who’s trying to jump the fence!


Then it was on to our favorite section of the zoo,


Ndoki Forest.  Here is where we saw the elephants,


and an alligator, and the cute little meerkat. 








Next were the giraffes, and another interactive exhibit.  It was feeding time for the giraffes, and several were lined up at the railing to take food from the little kids’ hands. 


It was really cute to watch, but Tom just had to get in there, too, and try feeding them himself!













Across from the giraffes was the gorilla enclosure – home to Chahka and Mike.  Somebody (we think it was Chahka) was taking a little catnap as we walked by,


but by the time we got inside the viewing room, both gorillas were just outside the glass and they were putting on a show for the crowd.  After collecting some food that had been tossed to them, Mike suddenly lunged at Chahka and body-slammed him into the wall!


They continued to eye each other warily,


and then suddenly started stalking and chasing each other through their habitat!


Later, we stopped by again, and found one of the guys lounging around in front of the glass again!


We found his feet very interesting, too . . . Bryce says he has thumbs on his feet!


When we could finally drag ourselves away from the gorillas, we found a 100+ year old Galapagos tortoise who wanted to be our friend!


He even came up to the railing to eat some grass out of Tom’s hand!


From the Ndoki Forest, after our lunch of 99 cent tacos,


we continued on to the Aquarium, where we saw fish and reptiles from all over the world.  There were all kinds of snakes (Yuk!), and iguanas,

DSC_0503and even piranhas!


Nicolas and Bryce thought the piranha were really cool!  They look pretty and harmless . . . but we know they’re really deadly!


In the big aquarium, one of the zookeepers was feeding the small fish,


while the elusive eel and shark circled the top of the tank!



From the fish and reptile house, we made our way over to the bird house.  Outside, we saw the bright pink flamingoes,



and inside the penguins were playing in the water – diving and swimming up to the glass!








We were getting pretty tired by now, but we weren’t done yet . . . more birds, including toucans






and a crazy-ugly vulture!


Look at that eye . . . he doesn’t even look real!


These guys reminded me of a couple of old cartoon characters from when I was a kid . . .


Heckel & Jeckel . . . didn’t we have Halloween costumes of them??!!


Leaving the birds, we took the path through the Kangaroo Walkabout,


where this Mama Kangaroo kept a close eye on us from a safe distance!


As we walked back past the baboons, we noticed a couple of zookeepers standing by the rail.


Somebody had thrown a baby toy into their habitat, and the baboons were tearing it apart.  The zookeeper was keeping an eye on them to make sure that they didn’t try to eat it.  So far, they weren’t.


Our last stop was to see the grizzly bears.  They were getting a little feisty at first, but then one just walked away and the other laid down to take a nap!


We were surprised to see that we had been walking around the zoo for 4 hours . . . and the boys had thought they were going to be bored!  Before we left, we decided to take a ride on the tram over to the Botanical Gardens.


As if we hadn’t walked enough, we took a stroll through the rose garden, and the Latino garden (where Bryce posed for a picture for me!),









and we took a nice, cool stroll through the woods before leaving the gardens.



There were several of this huge hosta-like plant . . .but I’m not sure what they are!


Lots of these glass sculptures, too, which were really pretty!


By the time we left the zoo, we were all pretty exhausted and hungry, so we went straight to dinner at the Mellow Mushroom, where we enjoyed a delicious salad, pizza and calzone. 

Back at the RV Park, we extended our stay through Wednesday so we would miss the storm that’s supposed to move through Myrtle Beach on Tuesday.  By then, we’ll be ready to move on!


  1. That church is so beautiful! I really miss pretty churches and I'm excited to find a good one in our next town!
    I love that zoo too! I'm a huge fan of zoos and this one looks like a real winner!

  2. I never get tired of visiting good zoos. Thanks for the great pictures!

  3. Ok, pretty church, but really, really empty !! Bryce looks good as a little mexican boy!!! And the H+J costumes were way before you came along, Dee and Sandi wore them. Look at page 27 in my cookbook and see the proof!!! Keep safe and happy travelling. Djr

    1. The church wasn't empty when we were there, but the kids were horrified that I would even consider taking my camera into mass, so I didn't. I got the pics off google, and it was either the one with it empty, or the one with the wedding party . . .

      I remember the costumes, but maybe it was only from pictures . . . I am quite a bit younger than the rest of you!!

  4. those big hosta looking things are elephant ears---i had some in my yard this year but silly me I never did get a photo of them....

  5. Look like you guy's are having fun. Looks nice and warm there. Still getting things put away for the winter. Take care and be safe....Your bro. Dave

    1. In Myrtle Beach now and its a bit warmer as we inch southward. Did get out on the motorcycle at the last stop, but not yet here. So much to explore, we are just scratching the surface. Nick is scoping out the seafood buffets for dinner. I think eating is most important thing on the boys minds. Stay warm in Michigan...

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