The North Carolina Zoo is celebrating 40 wild years in the 2014 season.
"All of us who have been here for a while have seen tremendous changes in the zoo, obviously the size has increased, we are not considered the largest land area zoo in the world, with over two thousand acres" said Rod Hackney, North Carolina Zoo's Marketing Director. "And we are now internationally recognized, forty years after we opened, as one of the best natural habitat zoos in the world."
It is a five mile hike from the 200 acre North America Plaza, past the cacti found in the Sonora Desert display and forest aviary, until you get to the 300 acre Akiba Market and African Pavilion.
But along the way, you'll pass by the Cypress Swamp, where American alligators live and three recently orphaned cougar cubs are now making their home, to the rocky coast display, home to harbor seals, and Patches, the polar bear that just arrived at the North Carolina Zoo and remains one of the popular attractions at the Zoo.
Just down the walkway is where you will find the grizzly bears, and the exhibit dedicated to the red wolf.
And as you continue to the Akiba Market, elephants, zebras, ostrich and giraffes roam freely in the Watari Grassland Reserve. And nearby, both adults and children can spend time watching, and interacting with Apollo, and the other gorillas that now make their home in the state zoo.
For the Zoo's 40th anniversary, two new exhibits have opened up. The Kids Zone is designed for young people and includes a tree top trail, butterfly garden and playhouse.
And this year, there is a focus on the world of insects with a new exhibit called "Bugs: An Epic Adventure, featuring 13 giant, lifelike bugs.
"They are the most lifelike, realistic representation of some of the largest and most well known insects from around the world, actually," said Hackney.
And while work continues on the new eight point $5 million expansion and renovation to the Polar Bear Exhibit, and over 2,000 acres of undeveloped property, there are some major expansion plans in the future, while keeping the current focus on kids connecting with nature.
"We are never satisfied with what we have right here, we are continuing to grow, because we know the more we grow, the more fun our visitors will have here and the more we can educate our visitors as they come and visit the zoo" said Gavin Johnson, of the North Carolina Zoo.
The North Carolina Zoo, celebrating 40 years and waiting for your next visit.
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