A trip to the N.C. Zoo is about to get a little more expensive.
Starting April 1, admission fees will rise by as much as $3, depending on the ticket. It's the zoo's second fee increase in 14 years, according to a press release. Zoo leaders blame the hike on state legislation that requires a 7 percent sales tax on admission tickets and six years of state budget cuts.
“By continuously having year to year cuts of $200,000 to $300,000, we have to increase fees so we can remain fully functional,” said Zoo Director Dr. David Jones in the release. “With the fee changes, we are in line with most zoos of our budget size in the southeast and our prices are still lower than that of most zoos throughout the country.”
Right now, adults pay $12.84 for general admission and $18 for an admission and ride combo ticket. The new price will be $15 for general admission and $21 for an admission and ride combo ticket.
Kids ages 2 to 12 pay $8.56 for general admission and $14 for an admission and ride combo ticket. The new price starting April 1 will be $11 for general admission and $17 for an admission and ride combo ticket.
Seniors ages 62 and older currently pay $10.70 for general admission and $16 for an admission and ride combo ticket. The new price will be $13 for general admission and $19 for an admission and ride combo ticket.
All prices include the new sales tax. The zoo increased admission by $2 in 2011.
The fee hike might make zoo membership more attractive for some families. For $75, families can purchase a membership, which includes free admission to the zoo for a year and free or reduced admission to many other zoos and aquariums around the country. That includes free admission to N.C. Aquariums on the North Carolina coast. (Aquarium membership, which is $75 a year for families, also includes free admission to the N.C. Zoo).
The zoo, which is in Asheboro about 90 minutes from the Triangle, will begin its summer hours on April 1. Operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily, through the end of October. The zoo's giraffe deck, carousel, renovated Africa bridge and both parking lots and entrances, shuttles and connector trail, will be open.
New attractions for visitors include:
- Dino World, a gathering of giant animatronic dinosaurs;
- "Spongebob SquarePants 4-D, The Great Jelly Rescue!" in the zoo's 4-D theater;
- the outdoor KidZone exhibit, which is a playground aimed at connecting kids with nature and will reopen for the second year;
- and the new polar bear exhibit with Anana, the zoo’s polar bear. The exhibit features an indoor gallery with educational graphics, video footage of polar bears in the wild and an artificial ice cave, according to the press release.