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NC Zoo looks at $110M expansion

Posted November 9, 2011

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— 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.

nc zoo NC Zoo looks to expand

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.

29 Comments

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  • dirkdiggler Nov 10, 2011

    For all you people complaining about funds to help 'honest folks in need of money'...you can thank the people who leech off the system for generations for that pickle. if more people who COULD support themselves WOULD, maybe we'd have cash left over to help those who cant. if you're so hot to trot about helping those in need, why dont you take the $50 a month you blow on internet and direct that to the closest homeless person instead? forget the fact that you may already contribute to charity (just as the state does with the endless handouts), you should give MORE (just as you apparently feel the state should).

    it's nice to see this expansion being mulled over. i love going to the zoo, and would welcome a third continent to explore.

  • Vietnam Vet Nov 10, 2011

    "Then we stopped for drinks at one of the restaurants and they had a one stall restroom not suitable to accommodate that many people and it was disgusting, holes in the wall and very outdated."

    It's a zoo...not a 5 star hotel...yet.

  • Vietnam Vet Nov 10, 2011

    I have no problem with the zoo expanding, but I do question the timing in this economy and with the state budget problems. A hotel and convention center there? It's in the middle of nowhere. Would there really be enough overnight zoo visitors to fill the hotel? A convention venue???

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Nov 10, 2011

    Yet, during the state budget process this year the zoo claimed it was so short on cash that it was going to have to raise ticket prices.

    Something doesn't sound right.

  • thewayitis Nov 10, 2011

    Much of zoo funding comes from private zoo donors, so the zoo is really a bargain for the state of NC. If they indeed move forward with this Asia exhibit, I may consider donating myself.

    My only complain about the zoo is that they are severely lacking in vending opportunities. Most zoos have plenty of people about, pushing drink and snack carts. If you go during the off season to our zoo, drinks and snacks are few and far between. Seems like it would be a good job for a teen or college student, and would provide a service for zoo visitors.

  • Pepe Silvia Nov 10, 2011

    I'm excited! For those of you complaining about the money being spent - expanding the zoo means hiring a lot of people to care for the animals, work in the shops and restaurants, clean the paths, etc. Not to mention the fact that a larger zoo will draw in people from farther away plus people who may not have been in a long time but will go back to see the new animals. The hotel will add jobs as well, and the hopes that people will travel from farther and stay overnight means more money pumped into local businesses.

    BRING ON THE PANDAS!

  • monkeyboy Nov 10, 2011

    heck yeah! go zoo! that place is awesome...

  • haggis basher Nov 10, 2011

    "That zoo is terrible. I would never go back."

    You can't please everyone. The Zoo is great, sure lots of walking but most of us could use the exercise and Animals sleep....what do you want a circus show!

  • haggis basher Nov 10, 2011

    "Great idea to expand the zoo for an Asia exhibit, but a bad one for a hotel/convention center. Save that money to buy a panda for the new Asia exhibit."

    Hotel money would be private enterprise money and not really available for pandas! Panda would be cool though....and Bamboo grows well in NC.

  • Pseudonym Nov 10, 2011

    Great idea to expand the zoo for an Asia exhibit, but a bad one for a hotel/convention center. Save that money to buy a panda for the new Asia exhibit.

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