Riverbanks Shines a Light on Aging Animal Care

For Immediate Release: May 31, 2024

Longer Lives for Animals Means Innovative Approaches to Ailments

Columbia, SC – Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s animal care and veterinary teams are focused every day on providing outstanding care to more than 3,000 animals during all phases of life. Many of the Zoo’s large cats, primates and other animals are advancing in age and require geriatric care including Charlie, a 20-year-old male giraffe, who has lived at Riverbanks since November 2005.

Charlie is one of the oldest giraffes in human care, and he is now showing signs of advanced age. The team at Riverbanks is passionate and committed to ensuring the animals live their best lives. Similar to providing end-of-life care for humans, the focus at this time is to maximize Charlie’s comfort and quality of life. Dr. Martha Weber, Riverbanks’ director of animal health, explains, “Each animal at Riverbanks receives an individualized care plan based on routine exams and any specific issues that arise. In partnership with the animal care team, we take a compassionate and holistic approach to health care.” 

Riverbanks’ veterinary and animal care teams recently partnered with the Columbia Fire Department in the treatment of Charlie. The department brought a thermal imaging camera to the Zoo to help identify his trouble spots. Laser therapies are now being used on these areas along with other interventions to try to increase Charlie’s comfort level.  

Advancements in veterinary medicine, nutrition, and husbandry techniques are helping animals live longer in zoos and aquariums around the U.S. As a result, animal care professionals are developing creative and innovative plans to address the unique needs of geriatric animals. The team at Riverbanks is leading the way in providing this specialized and compassionate care to ensure the longevity and well-being of all the animals in their protection. 

 | Thermal Camera and Laser Treatments |

- ### - 


Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 3,000 magnificent and fascinating animals and one of America’s best public gardens. The Zoo opened on April 25, 1974, and for five decades, has connected individuals, families and school children with the natural world. Riverbanks is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is recognized as a global leader in animal care and welfare, education, recreation, science and wildlife conservation. It is the mission of the Zoo and Garden to create meaningful connections and inspire actions that will have a lasting impact on conservation. For more information, visit riverbanks.org