More than 797,000 visitors stopped by the N.C. Zoo in 2016, marking the third largest calendar year attendance in the zoo's history.
Only 1994 and 1995, when the Asheboro destination's North America region first open to the public, saw higher numbers, according to a press release.
It was a big year for the zoo ...
Nikita, a new polar bear, arrived in January.
Zoofari, an open air bus ride through the Africa grasslands, opened in April. The 45-minute ride includes views of animals such as rhinos and ostriches, along with distant looks at the zoo's elephants.
Air Hike, a ropes course with about two dozen obstacles, opened in May.
And a new ocelot habitat just outside the Mangum Desert also opened in May and features a male and female ocelot. Ocelot kittens were born in September.
“We are deeply grateful to all those who came to see us in 2016," said Pat Simmons, zoo director, in a press release. "The citizens of North Carolina feel great ownership of this wonderful attraction and showed it this year with their visits. Thank you!”
The N.C. Zoo is one of only two state supported zoos in the United States.