Start the New Year with a FREE visit to the Zoo. Riverbanks' Free Fridays program kicked off last Friday, January 1, and continues through February 26. Each Friday during the months of January and February residents of Richland and Lexington counties will receive free admission to Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

'The Free Fridays program is a way for Riverbanks to show our appreciation for the continued support by the residents of Richland and Lexington counties,' said Satch Krantz, executive director of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

Riverbanks is a special purpose district and receives funding each year from the taxpayers of Richland and Lexington counties. To qualify for free admission, Richland and Lexington county residents will be asked to show proof of residency with a valid ID or a copy of their property tax statement. All other visitors will be charged regular admission. There is no limit to the number of Fridays Richland and Lexington county residents can visit during the promotion ' they can come one Friday or all nine.

Riverbanks' winter hours are 9am to 5pm daily. January and February make for a great time to visit the Zoo because many of the animals are most active during the cooler winter months. There are also several indoor exhibits where guests can step in from the cold. These exhibits include the Birdhouse at Riverbanks, Aquarium Reptile Complex, Gorilla Base Camp and Koala Knockabout.

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It is the mission of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden to foster appreciation and concern for all living things. Riverbanks is located at 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia, SC 29210. The Botanical Garden entrance is located at 1300 Botanical Parkway, West Columbia, SC 29169. The park is open daily from 9am to 5pm, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Admission is $9.75 for adults, $7.25 for children ages 3 ' 12 and free for children 2 and under. Group rates and other discounts may apply. For more information, call Riverbanks at 803.779.8717 or visit