Representatives from Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, and House of Raeford welcomed a crowd Tuesday morning to officially introduce the zoo’s newest addition.
The Farmyard has been added beside the zoo’s barn, with new animals and features. Guests have the opportunity to milk a mechanical cow, sit on a real tractor, interact with the animals, and observe demonstrations on the wildlife stage.
Animals in the farmhouse attraction include Nigerian dwarf goats, La Mancha goats, Saaneen goats, plus Juliana pigs and domestic chickens. Zoo guests are encouraged to enter the animal-contact yard to pet, brush, and feed the goats. There are also times where guests can feed the chickens and pet the pigs.
According to Director of Animal Care and Welfare John Davis, the farmyard is located in the former pony-riding area. “We had a pony exhibit here, which only catered to a select number of people. This is a family experience for everybody to come and connect with wildlife, and interact with animals,” Davis said. “As we get more into the city experience of living, we lose connections with wildlife and nature. And this brings it back home.”
House of Raeford, located in West Columbia, was the presenting sponsor of the farmyard experience. Corporate Communications Manager Dave Witter said it’s exciting to see the project completed and being enjoyed by zoo guests. “I’ve been exposed to the signings, and making approvals, and those kinds of things. But it’s nothing like the experience when you first get here,” he said. “Being able to see the visitors interact, just like the kids are petting the goats here, makes everything that we put into this really well-worth it.”
Supporters who attended the unveiling ceremony voiced their excitement, too. Executive Director of the Greater Cayce-West Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Richard Skipper, said the attraction is another great example of everything Riverbanks Zoo has to offer. “Both the zoo and the House of Raeford have a large economic impact in our chamber area. Their efforts to improve the area’s quality of life, and their community involvement, are an example of the good things businesses can do in their communities,” he said.
The farmhouse project construction began last fall, and was completed by April. Riverbanks Zoo is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.