Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is in the midst of the fourth expansion of exhibits in its 41 years.
A $36 million package of renovations, new features and extra parking will be finished by spring.
Zoo officials expect the changes will enhance the appeal of the 100-acre facility spanning the lower Saluda River off I-126.
Riverbanks today goes well beyond the vision that led to its opening in 1974.
A garden across the river from the zoo on the site of a Civil War camp was added in 1995.
Interactive features abound for visitors, such as feeding animals and birds as well as a zipline across the river for the adventurous.
The zoo, supported by taxpayers in Lexington and Richland counties, is a destination attracting a million visitors yearly to view more than 2,000 animals from 350 species and 4,300 plants.
Riverbanks is an economic force for the Columbia area, generating more than $60 million in sales annually and creating more than 700 jobs, zoo president Satch Krantz said.
It’s also a player in zoological and botanical conservation and education.
Riverbanks’ goals are to stay up to challenges and steadily adapt with the times, Krantz said.