South Carolina

Riverbanks Zoo says goodbye to elephants and brings in rhinos

PHOTO: Riverbanks Zoo

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina zoo plans to send off two African elephants in order to bring in Southern white rhinos.

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden of Columbia announced Wednesday that 48-year-old Robin and 37-year-old Belle will soon join a larger herd. The zoo said the public can attend special activities before the elephants leave.

Their specific destination for the elephants hasn't been determined.

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Zoo officials said 13 elephants have lived at Riverbanks since 1973.

The zoo said there is a chance elephants will return in the future. Director of Animal Care and Welfare John Davis said the zoo hopes to add more space and manage a breeding group one day.

Southern white rhinos haven't lived at the zoo since 1989. The new exhibit is scheduled to open next year.