Friday, April 8, 2011

Springtime at Riverbanks Botanical Gardens and Zoo

One of the jewels of the city of Columbia and a source of real pride for South Carolina is Riverbanks Zoo. It is not only listed as one of the best zoos in the country but if I am correct it is the largest tourist attraction in the state. When I first moved to the Midlands in 1993 it was already a well respected site for the protection and care of animals and a place of education about the natural world. With a superb and dedicated staff the years since then have only made it better with continuing efforts at expansion to house more animals and upgrading the conditions of those already living there. The addition of the botanical gardens a few years ago opened a new avenue for learning and appreciation of many forms of plant life, both native to the area and from other parts of the world.  

Last Sunday the pleasant Spring weather had most members of my family restless and unwilling to stay inside. As you might expect this condition is chronic for me and if I had not been on call for my job I would have long been on my way to Charleston for one of my numerous short day trips. The surprising thing was that Dragonwife also had the urge to get out of the house and came up with the idea to visit the botanical gardens. Since our son flew the coop earlier that morning with his buddies my daughter, Miss Wiggles, was forced to accompany us. Her idea was to visit a local fun park filled with video games, put-put golf, and go-karts but I was feeling in a cultured mood and agreed with my wife. Frankly, the idea of being around scores of screaming kids hyped up on soda and candy just did not appeal to me right then. We hit the gardens at almost the perfect time, the breeze was comfortable and the plants were blooming. The colors were spectacular and I found myself wishing my wife and I had caught our son before he skipped out so he could have watched Wiggles for us. It would have been nice to find one of the many benches throughout the garden and just sit.  .      

Hey, before anyone makes a crack I seriously dug the plants that day and spent a good amount of time trying to take some decent pictures. This tulip was one of the few that seems okay, out of sixty some odd pictures taken only about twenty were decent enough to keep. No, I will not abuse my readers and have any more posts showing off my lack of photographic talent. 

Back on the other side of the zoo amongst the animals the number of people also enjoying the nice weather was very large, almost in the theme park range of being crowded. This is the elephant exhibit, it is a relatively recent upgrade with the pachyderms enjoying ample space and company. Maybe my mind is a little too weird and maybe I'm too caught up in elephants but when I was kid living around Wilmington, North Carolina there was a roadside zoo that we would visit occasionally.  It was a pretty seedy place with a few monkeys and other relatively low maintenance animals but it's star attraction was a lone elephant that the owners let kids feed slices of plain white bread. As kids we really did not know any better but at times I could almost feel the loneliness of the animal. The only thing holding it in its confined space were ropes and if it had ever gotten irritated at us puny humans it could have very easily broken out and trampled anyone nearby. Now that I am older I realize it was a horrible existence and hope it was eventually moved to someplace better, although I know that is wishful thinking on my part.      

The gorilla exhibit is also a recent addition with two of the large primates living permanently here in Columbia. This is where I could add some statement about their presence raising the average IQ of the area since the city is usually awash in state and federal politicians. This guy was in the far corner of the habitat well away from his buddy who I understand is top dog. Truthfully he could have also been avoiding the people since I often feel the same way.    

This old codger is one of the resident Galapagos tortoises of Riverbanks zoo. These tortoises have an extremely long lifespans and if this guy is any indication a very strong sex drive. During one of the previous visits a few summers ago my daughter and I walked through the gates hearing loud, god-awful moans and grunts coming from inside. Being a healthy adult with his mind usually in the gutter the first thing that I thought involved nasty images and deeds of a man and a women. As my daughter and I made our rounds through the zoo we eventually came upon this old fellow on top of a smaller female. The people around the tortoise enclosure were giggling and in some instances trying to explain to their own small children what the reptiles were trying to accomplish. As we passed by the old guy last Sunday he seemed more inclined to just enjoying the warmth of the sun. I am debating with myself whether I will post a video of turtle porn if I am lucky enough to catch them in the act again. I really don't want any heat from some irate person who might turn my butt into Blogger forcing a warning on my site before a reader enters. Lastly, take it for what it is worth but during that visit when the tortoises were "busy" the old guy was definitely into his reproduction duties, his female partner not so much. In fact she looked rather bored, a fact commented on by several human females who also expressed some sort of solidarity with the female tortoise.           


Lowandslow said...

Looks like a great way to spend a lazy Sunday. You're smart to go now, before the oppressive southern heat settles in for the summer. Thanks for sharing your pics.


Pixel Peeper said...

I have pictures of the same turtle... :-)

I agree, Riverbanks Zoo is a gem! Thanks for a nice trip down memory lane.

Bill's Big Bamboo said...

I LOVE "turtle porn".

When I was in the working world ... on "business trips", I made it a point to visit the zoos in the city I was in. Riverbanks Zoo is truly one of the best & a hidden treasure for the state of south Carolina.

Randal Graves said...

a source of real pride for South Carolina is Riverbanks Zoo.

What, not your political class? That's the Carolina highlight for me, though please don't ever ever ever show elected official porn or I'll write the feds and tell them you're Al-Qaeda #3.

okjimm said...

I like zoos. Been living in one for years.

... course, in wixconson we have to keep most of our plants indoors...

.... our they die!!!

Beach Bum said...

LowandSlow: Its a really nice place and you are right, once the heat sets in we will not go back until late fall.

Pixel: Mentioned the overly sexual tortoise to a coworker and he mentioned that his elderly mom suggested to zoo staff once that the reptile and his mate be hidden while propagating the species. My buddy's mom said young children might be corrupted at seeing such behavior.

Bill: Yeah, we keep planning on dropping our membership but never do.

Randal: LOL!!!
There should be fresh national news soon about our political class. The Lieutenant Governor is under investigation and Nikki Haley is in a cat fight with a chick named Darla Moore, a famous and rich business babe.

Jim: Yeah, me too. Well if I want to stretch a point it can be called an asylum as well.

Marja said...

Hi beach just passing by. What a . little paradise you have there and you do have talent. I love your pics. Arohanui

lime said...

oh man, i am still waiting on spring to arrive here. in fact, my son had a track meet that got snowed out last week. it ain't right. all that to say this post did my heart good. it means spring MUST work its way north eventually. the tulip shot is nice and i have a thing for the apes. that's my favorite stop in any zoo.

turtle porn idea cracks me up. can't possibly be worse than anything on animal planet. just edit to put black tape over their eyes if you think the overly conservative will freak out.

Beach Bum said...

Marja: To be honest I'd trade with you in a heartbeat, New Zealand is heaven.

Lime: I'd trade weather with you guys, you know how I hate yardwork. Been able to escape the worst parts but unless my son and I cough up a lung before next weekend we are screwed.

Akelamalu said...

That looks like a lovely place to spend a day. :)

Mr. Charleston said...

Next time I'm in your neck of the woods I'm going to visit the Columbia zoo. Thanks for the photos.

Cloudia said...

monkey and tortoise friends!
nicely done, BB

Warm Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral



Nance said...

We're having a spectacular Spring in SC this year and aren't we lucky? Beautiful warm days, a couple of serious late afternoon thunderstorms, and even the apparently disinterested suddenly find themselves twitterpated. And there's something in it that brings out both our desire for "culture"--art in landscape, music, photography, etc.--and a few more primitive urges, too. What a season!

Beach Bum said...

Akelamalu: Its a great place, especially during rainy days. Hardly anyone comes those days and my daughter and I have at times almost had the place to ourselves.

Mr. Charleston: You would have a great time. If you come first thing in the morning when it firsts opens it reasonable to finish by the early afternoon. After that my daughter and I usually head towards the South Carolina State Musesum, another great place.

Cloudia: The tortoise is a blast. I think he is over 70 years old.

Nance: Absolutely, I just wish I had more time to get involved with such things.

John McElveen said...

Awesome Buddy--we've been members since it opened. I used to go to where it was built and swim in the rapids. It was all just woods! I haven't been in years--but thanks to your piece I'm doing both sides of the river!!!!

Thanks again,


goatman said...

I am usually saddened at zoos.
My dream is to go about letting the critters out into the world to roam and live free.
But that's just me!

Liberality said...

now, now--if he was a good fornicator I think she would be enjoying it too. turtle porn, now I've heard everything ;~)

Beach Bum said...

John: I really don't know if I will keep my membership for much longer, its sad but the day is approaching when my daughter will completely refuse to go.

Goatman: That would be a good thing but right now zoos are the best chance we have to save many animals.

Liberality: You would not believe the ruckus that old guy was making. I hope I'm half that energetic at his age.

Ranch Chimp said...

Great looking piece Guy!

Beach Bum said...

Ranch: Thanks!