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Plants at Zoo Exhibits

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I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. On our visit to film at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, we learned about displays designed to reflect the native areas of a specific animal. We started out at the sealion and seal exhibit. Obviously, there weren’t plants in the water, but curator Melody Scott Leach has planted the surrounding areas to resemble the wind-swept California coasts home to these animals.  She explained that she studies photographs of the animals’ place of origin then designs topography and selects plants with similar appearance that can thrive in our climate.  Her choice of distorted conifers and plants with silvery-colored foliage set the scene of that windswept habitat, heightened by the barks of those animals.  For the koala exhibit, different species of the eucalyptus plants grow, as you’d expect, but the one they eat isn’t hardy in South Carolina and is shipped to Columbia.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.