NC Zoo looks at $110M expansion
Posted November 9, 2011
Asheboro, N.C. — North Carolina Zoo leaders are hoping to move ahead with plans for a third exhibit area and hotel and convention facilities.
The zoo includes exhibits representing Africa and North America, and officials are looking at adding an Asia exhibit. Zoo Director David Jones said Wednesday that developing a third continental exhibit would allow the facility to bring in animals such as tigers, rare goats and sheep, snow leopards, cattle and wild horses. The new China and India areas could also house orangutans, camels and pandas one day.
New York-based AECOM and Grant Leisure of Montecito, Calif., conducted a feasibility study and found that the new region would cost $110 million over the next decade. The cost would be split between public and private funds.
To accommodate overnight visitors, the zoo is also looking at developing hotel and convention facilities and another complementary attraction on 273 acres adjoining zoo property. The N.C. Zoological Society, the zoo’s nonprofit support organization, recently acquired the property. The facilities would be built with funds from private investors, Jones said.
Jones said he would also like to change the zoo from being under state management to a public-private partnership. The state would still own the site, but the Zoological Society would run it like a business.
"That is the way that 75 percent of all accredited zoos have gone in recent years," Jones said.
The expansion will need to be approved by the zoo's board and state lawmakers before it can begin.