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4The Daily Tar Heel Thursday, October 22, 1987
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t's an animal lover's haven!
A 1,400-acre zoological park
By CATHY McHUGH
Omnibus Editor . .
and JULIE BRASWELL
Lions and tigers and bears Oh,
And giraffes, and ostriches, and
rhinoceroses, and elephants, and
baboons, and antelope and exotic
birds . . . and they're all only about
an hour's drive from Chapel Hill
More than 700 animals reside in
natural habitats at the North Carolina
. Zoological Park near Asheboro. So.
take a road trip. A safari, if you will.
You don't have to be Dr. Doolittle
to go and talk to the animals.
The zoo occupies 1 ,400 acres in
the Uwharrie Mountain range in
Randolph County. There are no bars
just rocks, gullies, moats, vege
tation and clear glass separating you
from the animals in one of the largest
land-area zoos on earth.
Plan to wear your hiking boots if
you opt to take the approximately
2-mile trek around the zoo's perime
ter. Or. if your feet are just too tender,
for all that walking (or you're simply
too lazy), a tram ride is available for
$1. . .
Once you're there, prepare for the
journey into Africa, the first com
pleted continent of the seven conti
nents planned for the zoo.
The first habitat you'll come to is
the Forest Edge, where, if you're
lucky, you'll see giraffes, zebras and
ostriches roaming the grassy veldt,
i On the 40-acre plains, you'll see
gazelles, impalas. kudu and other
j hoofed African species running freely.
Nearby, the African .elephants relax,
and sometimes play, in a 3.5-acre.
grassy, tree-dotted area. There is also
a pond where the animals can some
times be found trying to cool off in
hot weather. In the adjacent area you
will find the elephants' huge , coun
terparts, two 3.000 pound Southern
In June, the zoo directed attention
to the plight of the elephants with
a balloon launch they held to kick off
"Zoo and Aquarium Month." Ele
phants are becoming an endangered
species as their native elements are.
being destroyed, said Les Schobert,
the zoo's general director.
One of the most popular exhibits
is the African Pavilion a unique
cupola-topped structure made of
Teflon-coated fiberglass in which you
can be introduced to the plants and
animals of the rain forest. This facility
houses 200 animals that represent
a large diversity of Africa's major
For those who enjoy a little
monkey business, there are blue
faced mandrills and playful Patas
monkeys to watch as they cavort in
their man-made habitat. The pavilion
also includes a 34-acre indoorout
door gorilla habitat for Ramar, Hope
and Carlos, the three popular lowland
"I liked the pavilion better than the
African plains because the animals
'. were all up close, and there were
' explanations on the walls that told
about all the animals and their
'habitats," sophomore Kirsten Kalk
For bird lovers, the RJ. Reynolds
Forest Aviary consists of a glittering
plexiglass dome that encloses 1 8.000
square feet and houses over 1 50
brilliantly colored birds and 2.300
Gary Hanson, keeper at the aviary,
said the birds are slowly introduced
into the environment of the aviary.
He said the cage is put out into the
aviary for a few days. "The bird is
put out with the others when it is
ready," Hanson said.
While you're wandering through
the pavilion's exotic plants, look for
the bright scarlet ibis. African spoon
bills and Mandarin duck wading
through shallow pools, and the
Victoria crowned pigeon or Palawan
peacock pheasant waddling through
the undergrowth. Then look up to
catch the rainbow-colored canopy
birds in flight as they ascend to the
- If you still want to monkey around,
visit the baboon island, where a
family of Hamadryas baboons frolic
on a rocky mound surrounded by a
moat. The inhabitants, especially the
young ones, may run. jump, and
scream at you. but they'll seldom be
still. And there's also a watchful adult
male who. with his huge size and gray
mane, regally surveys his domain.
Next, you can enter into the lion
and chimpanzee habitats. In the
shade of realistic-looking, towering
rock wails, you may catch a pride of
lions napping. Nearby, nine chimpan
zees make their home in a habitat
designed to resemble the hilly,
deciduous forests from which they
Director Robert Fry says the zoo's
purpose is to provide education,
recreation, research and the conser
vation, preservation, and propagation
of animal life. But that's not all. The
park is still expanding. Habitats
encompassing the entire continent of
North America will soon be visible in
Visitor relations coordinator Greta
Lint said that Project North America
is the zoo's second expansion since
the African Plains Exhibits. The zoo
hopes to have animal habitats from
seven continents within the next 20
Lint said that although the zoo is
just starting to grow in size, it
employs over 250 full-time
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employees, and. in peak months, 1 50
volunteers help out.
The staff will certainly grow in the
future as the North American exhibits
become a reality. Public Information
Coordinator Rod Hackney said seven
major habitat areas in the North
American project have been set for
completion by 1991. The 200-acre.
$30-million project will include 40
exhibits containing 95 species of
animals and as many as 200 species
of plant life.
The seven planned habitat areas
The Rocky Coast, which will
feature animals and plants native to
the Arctic, west coast and north
Atlantic shorelines. Polar bears, Arctic
foxes. California sea lions and snowy
owls will inhabit a man-made, north
western America landscape.
The Desert Pavilion a two
story, climate-controlled structure
that will house creatures such as
roadrunners. kangaroo rats, kit foxes,
gila monsters and rattlesnakes in
sand dunes and gypsum hills. Vege
tation will include sage, yucca and
mesquite, and a lava cave will be
created for nocturnal animals and
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The Streamside. which will be an
aquarium-type structure that will
create a habitat for fish, otters,
muskrats, water shrews and turtles.
Willows, dogwoods, aspen, holly and
mountain laurel will make up the
The Cypress Swamp an exhibit
in which visitors will be able to see
that swamps aren't wastelands, but
valuable habitats for wildlife. Cou-.
gars, alligators, turtles, herons and
ducks will be included in this area.
o The Great Plains, which will
consist of a prairie pond, a waterfall,
ravines and grassy slopes. Bison, elk.
and white-tailed deer will roam freely
on nearly eight acres of open grass
land. Other exhibits will include
grizzly bears and prairie dogs and
wildflowers and wild herbs.
' DThe North Woods, which will
have a series of pools and a boreal
forest surrounded by a moat that will
be the habitat for black bears, wolves
and ravens. Vegetation will include
Colorado spruces and meadow
The Marsh an acre of marsh
land complete with lagoon and dunes
that will draw native and migrant
birds to the exhibit. Plants will
include wild rice, cattails, bulrushes,
and water, lilies.
Hackney said that in addition to
the exhibits, Project North America
will have an educational center and
a medical complex. "This project will
continue the growth and progress of
the world's first zoo planned com
pletely around the natural habitat
concept." Hackney said.
Sara Ryan, the park's curator of
education, said that the zoo officials
try to instill in their visitors a sense
of wonder of the animals. "It's
basically a living classroom." she said.
More than 60.000 schoolchildren
attend the outdoor classroom, and
a total of 500.000 people visit the
exhibits every year.
While you're learning, you may get
lucky and witness an animal give birth
or perhaps watch the animal clean
and nurse the young for the first time
but only if you're patient, Schobert
Staff officials say they hope their
dedication to conserving animal life
will rub off on visitors. "We only
conserve what we love," Ryan said.
She said she hopes everyone who
visits will leave with this love.
Even the budget-conscious student
can afford the luxury of a trip to the
zoo to talk to the animals. Admission
is $3 for adults and $1 for senior
citizens and children under 15. The
park is located six miles southeast
of Asheboro. and visitors are welcome
from 9 to 5 every day Oct. 16 to
March 31. From April .1 to Oct. 15.,
the hours are 9 to 5 weekdays, and
10 to 6 Sundays and holidays.
The Daily Tar HeelThursday, October 22,19875
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