WAKE FOREST, N.C. — The Triangle Metro Zoo has long been home to exotic animals and birds, from rarely seen yak to good old geese. From birthday parties to school field trips, the zoo has teased the imaginations of thousands of children.
"Our spring was so booked, we had the Franklin County Sheriff's Office directing traffic on numerous occasions," said zoo owner Larry Seibel.
But after eight years, Seibel is shutting the place down. It's just too much for him to handle alone.
"I had someone ask once how this was all funded," he said. "They were dumbfounded by the amount of all the work and I said it was funded by credit cards."
In addition to the money issues, Seibel pointed to another problem -- new development is popping up all around the zoo.
"We have seen kids coming up close to the fences and stuff like that," he said.
Because of that, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants Seibel to put up a privacy fence around the 40-acre compound. It's an expense he can't afford.
Over the last few weeks, Seibel been racing to find the animals homes. Most will end up in private collections or zoos. But then there's Raja. The Bengal tiger has arthritis and needs plenty of space, so he will need a special home.
Seibel described closing the zoo as a heartbreaking decision, but one that's best for him and the animals.