Riverbanks Zoo & Garden’s current construction finally ends this June with the unveiling of Sea Lion Landing.
The sea lion exhibit is a replica of the famous Pier 39 in San Francisco. Its exterior will offer an amphitheatre for visitors to watch daily demonstrations, along with an overhead view of the estimated 250,000 gallon water exhibit. Inside Sea Lion Landing, people will receive a giant underwater viewing, which provides seating and handicap accessibility.
“This is a destination attraction,” Riverbank’s PR specialist Susan O’Cain said. “For it to be in the city the size of columbia, that speaks volumes. Not only is it going to be fun and interactive, but it’s going to be a huge educational opportunity–it’s going to reach so many people.”
Upon opening, the exhibit will contain four sea lions, three originally from San Diego Zoo and one from Seneca Park Zoo. O’Cain says the zoo plans to add harbor seals and more sea lions to the exhibit, but not anytime soon. The method for any zoo to accommodate more animals is a strenuous process that can last for years.
Riverbanks Zoo is a part of a breeding plan that includes over 70 different species. None of its animals are taken from the wild.
“Conservation is the core of riverbanks,” O’Cain said. “A lot of those big named species aren’t doing so well in the wild. Our mission is to make sure that we keep those populations growing and thriving in the captive sense.”
Once the sea lions arrive at the exhibit, they will undergo a 30-day quarantine within Sea Lion Landing’s holding area. The protocol applies to all of the zoo’s animals and ensures that the newly introduced animals are in prime mental and physical condition before making a public appearance.
Sea Lion Landing is a piece of the zoo’s $36-million project, Destination Riverbanks. The project additionally encompasses the grizzly bear and otter exhibit, and Waterfall Junction, which resides at the zoo’s Botanical Garden. Waterfall junction is an interactive 3-acre children’s garden with a dino dig, creeks and ponds and tree houses. This attraction will open to the public during the first week of April.
“This is going to be huge and we dubbed it Destination Riverbanks,” O’Cain said. “The idea is not only to get people to come to the zoo, but we want them to stay here. We want them to stay overnight, we want them to see what the rest of the community has to offer.”