Lots of people are going to the N.C. Zoo.
Between July 2015 and June 2016, a record 755,567 guests visited the zoo in Asheboro, logging the highest attendance in 19 years and the fourth highest in the zoo's history, according to a press release.
Zoo officials say the addition of male polar bear Nikita and the great interest in his interaction with female polar bear Anana is one reason for the hike. Temperate weather and popularity of the zoo as a spring break destination are others. In fact, the zoo saw almost capacity crowds in March and April, along with busy weekends in June, which helped push the attendance numbers up.
New attractions could help to keep the numbers high this season. The zoo recently introduced Zoofari, an open-air ride, and Air Hike, a treetop adventure course, to its offerings.
"We are delighted to see a significant increase in visitors for the last fiscal year," said Pat Simmons, zoo director. "Growth in visitor numbers means we are reaching more and more people with our message of education, conservation and wonderful animals at the largest zoo in the world."
The zoo is about 90 minutes from Raleigh.