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700 species getting a new home at Riverbanks Zoo

This area is expected to be open to the public by the beginning of 2023.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Construction of a brand new Aquarium and Reptile Conservation Center is underway at the Riverbanks Zoo.   

This will be a brand new home to nearly 700 reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.

Sean Foley, the zoo's 30-year herpetology curator tells News 19 they have to test each species in each exhibit before making it their home. 

"We're testing the animals out there, but that takes while because you can see, this is an open top exhibit, so we have to make sure those animals stay in their exhibits and what they're going to do and all that, so on any given day we're putting them out for several hours at a time, seeing what he's doing," Foley said.

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The new layout of the center will move from temperate forest room, to tropical forest, to desert, to aquarium, to coral lab and conservation room. 

Foley explains it's important for everyone to learn about these species and how they benefit our ecosystem.

"They have the name rat snake for a reason, and they eat lots of rodents, so they're a really important part of the ecosystem. If you start removing all those rat snakes, you're going to have a lot of mice or rats in that area," Foley said.

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So next time you visit the zoo, be ready to see something new. 

Zoo officials explain this center has been delayed by supply chain issues, but should be complete by the beginning of next year.

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