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Baby rhinos
(North Carolina Zoo photo)

The state’s crown jewel
By Debbie Foster Fuchs

Right here in Randolph we have a crown jewel for the entire Tar Heel State, the world’s largest zoo. Much like Randolph County itself, the North Carolina Zoo is a patchwork oasis blending nature, progress and conservation. The year ahead has exciting new attractions as the zoo plans to welcome more than 800,000 guests to the area.

Much has changed over the years and 2019 promises to be a banner year for the zoo with exciting new attractions set to open in late spring 2019.

The Kaleidoscope Butterfly Garden is a dazzling walk-through experience showcasing magnificent exotic butterflies and colorful gardens.

Treehouse Trek is an adventure for our “smaller” guests, similar to the Air Hike Ropes Course. While big brothers and sisters are harnessed up on the ropes course, the littler ones can have a fun experience scampering around whimsical treehouses, safe rope bridges and oversized play nests.

Expedition AFRICA is an immersive virtual reality experience which puts you in the middle of the African continent and face-to-face with animals such as elephants and rhinos.

As an Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited zoo, animal care and wellness are paramount. The North Carolina Zoo is the world’s largest zoo by acreage with 500 developed acres of natural habitats and a total land space of 2,600 acres. Our 1,800 animals roam in natural habitat settings just as they would in the wild. Our dedicated team of experts — biologists, animal care staff and veterinarians provide exceptional, compassionate care for the animals that call our park home.

Come meet our two growing rhino babies in an opportunity that rarely comes along in nature or in human care. Nandi and Bonnie are among the stars of the expansive Watani Grasslands in our Africa Region.

Nandi was born on July 2, 2018, to mother Linda and father Stormy. This was the first southern white rhinoceros born at the zoo in 41 years. Bonnie was born on July 13, 2018, to mother Kit and father Stormy. She was named by her zoo- keepers in honor of long-time zoo supporters. Both were born weighing around 90 pounds each and are gaining around 100 pounds a month during their first year.

The North Carolina Zoo is committed to being part of rhinoceros conservation initiatives both within the zoo community and internationally to ensure the survival of this species. The North Carolina Zoo is a year-round opportunity for fun and immersing yourself in nature and your admission tickets support conservation projects around the world.

From April 1 to Oct. 31 a number of attractions (with nominal extra charges) enhance the guest experience. You can design your own day at the zoo.

5 Fun Facts
  • More than 100,000 North Carolina school children visit the North Carolina Zoo for free each year.
  • At Kidzone, kids can interact with Ambassador Animals and participate in learning through play for free.
  • The zoo’s beautiful, shaded hiking trails adjacent to the parking lots are free to the public for heart-healthy exercise in nature.
  • The zoo supports 1,655 jobs in the region and employs more than 750 as part of a $26 million operation.
  • Parking, parking lot shuttle and trams inside the zoo are all free of charge.

General admission prices are: Adults, $15 Senior adults, $13 (62+) Children, $11 (ages 2-12) Kids under 2, free