Location: Asheboro, North Carolina
General Description: The North Carolina Zoological Park is the largest walk-through zoo in the United States with over 2000 acres, over 1600 animals representing over 250 species. The Park is divided into two areas, North America and Africa, located at opposite ends, each with their own parking lot with over 5 miles of walking trails and trams located throughout the zoo and between the two parking lots. This zoo was the first in the US to incorporate the “natural habitat” philosophy presenting animals along with native plants. There are parking lots at both ends so visitors can start at either end and ride a bus back to their parking lot. North America has areas focused on the “Cypress Swamp” with alligators, cougars, snakes, turtles, and lizards; the “Rocky Coast” focusing on the Pacific Northwest with seals, polar bears, Arctic foxes, and seabirds; the “Streamside” of North Carolina with otters, bobcats, snakes, lizards, and fish; the “Prairie” with bison and elk; the “Sonoran Desert” recreated in a dome with ocelots, coatis, bats, and free flying birds. Grizzlies, black bears, and red wolves also have their exhibits. Africa is also divided into different large areas. The “Forest Edge” exhibit houses giraffes, zebras, and ostriches. The “Watani Grasslands” simulate the savannahs of Africa with rhinos, elephants, Thompson’s gazelle, gemsbok, waterbucks, and greater kudu. Other large exhibits include enclosures for chimpanzees, baboons, gorillas, red river hogs, lions, and lemurs. Finally there is a large aviary to recreate the conditions for humid tropical forests and many free flying birds.
1) The NC Zoological Park is a wonderful use of a day in the fall. Since we were there during the week after school started, the crowds were very small. While this meant that few of the eateries were open, except for a couple in the center of the park during lunch, it made for a quiet relaxing day. The temperature was in the low 80s with bright sunshine, perfect conditions for a five mile hike.
2) Here are a sample of the different animals we saw: