COLUMBIA, S.C. — The man who’s led South Carolina’s largest zoo for more than 40 years is stepping down.

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden president and CEO Palmer “Satch” Krantz’s retirement takes effect June 30.

The Columbia zoo is the top tourist attraction in South Carolina, with more than 1.2 million visitors last year.

Krantz joined the zoo in 1973 and became executive director three years later, at age 26.

The zoo has more than 2,000 animals.

Krantz’s retirement comes as the zoo completed a $36 million expansion last year. It was the third major expansion in its history.

He was the nation’s longest serving zoo director and is a past president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

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