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SC zoo to renovate aquarium and reptile building for a year

July 17, 2021 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina zoo is closing its aquarium and reptile building starting next month for about a yearlong renovation project.

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia plans to change the building into a center for reptiles and animals who live in water, in a way that emphasizes conservation efforts the zoo does behind the scenes every day, officials said in a statement.

The new center will include a number of habitats. One of them is called the Florida Reef Tract Rescue Project, where zoo workers have spent three years trying to care for 40 reef colonies being destroyed by an unknown disease.

Zoo visitors can watch as researchers also try to save the animals who lived among the coral, officials said.

Riverbanks Zoo is shifting several exhibits and sending some animals to other zoos, including a pair of false gharial crocodiles that had been at the facility more than 30 years. Their old tropical habitat will become a desert biome in the new building.

The new building will be named for the Darnall W. and Susan F. Boyd Foundation. The couple’s foundation has supported a number of projects around Columbia, including at the Saluda Riverwalk and the Columbia Museum of Art.