Review Archive/December 2012
Updated December 26, 2012
North Carolina Zoo, Part I
By Jay Whipple/Trend Magazine Online™
It had been about 30 years since I visited the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC; back in the early 1980’s and just after their first permanent exhibit debuted in 1979. Back then there was not much to see other than Zebras, Ostriches, Giraffes, and a poor Tiger pacing back and forth in a small glassed-in cage. Fast forward to 2002 and the progress is mind-boggling as they now have two continents of God’s creatures on display in North America and the Motherland – Africa. It is for this reason one must plan an entire day at the new and much improved North Carolina Zoo. I had been planning this trip for weeks on a Wednesday, however, something would always come up that was more pressing or in some cases depressing that prevented me from making the day trip to Asheboro, NC. Finally, a small window of opportunity opened on Wednesday August 22, 2012, when I was given the green light to make the much anticipated trip. I arrived at one of the main entrances at approximately 9:50 am after being thoroughly confused by the road signs that gave me the option of a North America or Africa entrance. I assumed that I had a choice of visiting one or the other but not both so I chose North America because I am personally more familiar with that territory.
The parking lot was nearly half full and handicapped parking was conveniently located near the entrance gate. Parking is free and that is always a good thing! My heart was pounding with anticipation as I strolled up to the ticket counter and gate after snapping a few photos and videos of the North America entrance. The ticket agent was very pleasant and cordial and the weather was perfect for a day outside – not too hot and humid and a little overcast but not raining. My admission was $12 (Adult) for a basic entry; other options included a few more dollars for extra “special” exhibits like the Giraffes Pavilion. I was given a neat map that was very easy to follow from start to finish without having to back track. I was quite disappointed, however, that the first sign that I read stated that the famous Polar Bear exhibit was closed – due to an $8.6 million-dollar expansion -- until 2014. I immediately thought to myself, “I’ll be back,” in my Arnold Schwarzenegger voice.
There were lots of school-aged children scurrying about as expected as I entered the first exhibit zone known as the Marsh to my left. This area at first glance was not very cool, I thought to myself; however, a more thorough inspection uncovered; get this, Frogs on a Lilly Pad. And all this time I thought that that was just a cliché’ that was repeated because it sounds repeatable.
Next up was the Gator Trail; I had to do this one, being from Florida I grew up with those creatures roaming the canals of Miami. In this area I read that there were 800 different species of oak and that 65 are native to North America. In addition, Gators can grow up to 19 feet in length and are typically lifeless unless it’s time to eat and/or they are agitated. There were also two Cougars resting in a tree stump nearby that took me a while to spot.
It was about 10:30 am and I guess they may have been beat from last night’s hunt? Smile. I ran across a very informative zoo guide that knew all about alligators and she explained to me that the mothers carry their young inside their mouths. This is where trust really comes into play I thought! I can also imagine that the mother has very few problems with them acting up while in this mode. The Gators, she said, feed on chicken (yummy), fish (yummy), and rats (yuk); in fact, I had just missed a live feeding minutes before my stop.
Next up was the Harbor zone which features seals and sea birds. This area was really cool, I mean like 50 degrees Fahrenheit cool! You have to be very quick to catch one of those seals in their natural habitat because they zip across the viewing area at lightning speed. Right across the path was a kid’s play zone which was obviously off limits to me. Next up was an area known as Streamside that features Otters, Snakes, Fish, and Turtles. Most of the Fish on display were quite small compared to those you see at the Bass Pro Shops, and like the Seals, the North American River Otters were hard to catch on cam as they also zipped by at lightning speed. While inside, I learned that there were six venomous Snake species in North Carolina but they stop short of naming them all. I searched the Internet and this site states that there are actually seven species to include: The Eastern Cottonmouth, the Northern Copperhead, Southern Copperhead, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake, Canebrake Rattlesnake, Carolina Pygmy Rattlesnake, and the Eastern Coral Snake. There is a Bobcat on display but like the Cougar he/she was napping away. The Snake exhibit was okay but I was disappointed that they did not identify Snakes that were indigenous to North Carolina, at least not to my satisfaction.
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