North Carolina Zoological Park
With an area of 1,458 acres, the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro is the largest walk-through natural habitat zoo and is the first state-supported zoo in the United States when it opened to the public on August 13, 1976. This is one of the only two state zoos in the United States; the other one is located in Minnesota. Included in the zoo’s territory is the Uwharrie Mountains which has been considered as one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges and the Purgatory Mountains, which is the tallest point on the zoo grounds at 937 feet above sea level.
With its objective to give visitors the awareness about the human’s connection with the animal world, the North Carolina Zoo incorporated the simulation of natural habitat for the animals, the first zoo to incorporate such setup. The North Carolina Zoo boasts its big collection of animals on its African and North American exhibits which were landscaped to resemble the real place where it was based. Visitors can roam around by walking in the five miles of a walking path or they can choose to ride transportations provided by the park-like trams and air-conditioned buses. The minimum time to circumnavigate the whole park with convenience is five hours.
Aside from the sight of animals roaming around the Zoo, there are also a number of special events that will surely provide viewers with fun and educational activities. Samples of these are “On the Wing” (a live birds-of-prey show), Earth Day Celebration, Holiday Lights, Boo at the Zoo and Street Rod Safari, which is an automobile show under the zoo tradition. There are also a number of educational activities that are targeted among schooling individuals. There programs include Zoo Camp (for First Graders to Sixth Graders), Zoo Programming (exhibit viewing), Zoo To You Programming (inviting a zoo educator to schools), Zoo Snooze (overnight programs in the zoo), Classroom Programming, Home School Program, Scout Badge Program and Internship (for pre-professionals).
North Carolina Zoo also features the Art in the Park program which features artists whose works are in line with the zoo’s visions. This includes a showcase of paintings, photographs sculptures and other artworks that shows appreciation and awareness to the environment. Among the Art Program’s specific goals include the involvement of artists in the realization of the zoo’s conservation vision, making a connection to the natural environment, preservation of the zoo’s visual assets, creation of the zoo’s positive identity, engagement of artists in the planning and designing, increase of audience in the zoo and promotion of the park as an educational resource. Other major exhibits in the Zoo include African Pavilion, Forest Glade, Sonora Desert, and Watani Grasslands Reserve.