New fence in zoo's parking lot will limit access to river | News
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is taking additional steps to increase security and improve the guest experience by erecting a new fence along the perimeter of the west-end of the Zoo parking lot – closest to the lower Saluda River.
Riverbanks Zoo has seen a record attendance trend of more than one million visitors annually during the last three years and just recently announced an all-time attendance high of 1,029,492 guests during the 2011-2012 fiscal year. This record growth along with the ever-increasing number of non-Zoo visitors using the Zoo parking lot for river access has prompted Riverbanks to put additional safety and security measures in place.
“The safety of Riverbanks’ guests and employees is our number one priority,” said Satch Krantz, president and CEO of Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. “Over the past four years, tens of thousands of people have been using the Zoo parking lot solely to access the Saluda River. The vast majority of these people are law abiding citizens but there is a certain element that creates almost daily problems for the Zoo’s public safety staff. ”
Additionally, the ever-increasing number of river users has forced the Zoo to turn guests away during peak times. During the Zoo’s busy 2012 Spring Break season in April and May the Columbia Police Department was forced to close the Greystone Boulevard exit due to heavy traffic.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is South Carolina’s number one tourist attraction. In a recent study commissioned by Riverbanks, the University of South Carolina College of Hospitality, Retail and Sports Management revealed the Zoo’s annual economic impact on the local economies of Richland and Lexington Counties. The results of that study underscore the fact that Riverbanks is a powerful economic driver within the local economy—generating more than $60 million in local business sales and creating more than 700 jobs in the community.
“Not taking appropriate action would put the Zoo’s status as South Carolina’s premier attraction in jeopardy,” Krantz said.
Riverbanks encourages use and enjoyment of the Saluda River at those areas designed to accommodate access such as Saluda Shoals Park. Work to erect the new fence is scheduled to begin at the end of the month. Once completed, the fence will attach to the already existing portion located at the east-end of the parking lot – encompassing the entire parking area. Riverbanks also recently added an electronic gate at the entrance to the Zoo parking lot as well as a locked gate at its Rivermont parking area for increased security.
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