Governor Pat McCrory visited the North Carolina Zoo this morning, stopping by Asheboro for a tour to learn more about one of the nation's most popular zoos.
"The zoo is one of North Carolina's top tourist attractions," Governor McCrory said. "It is an outstanding recreational and educational resource for our citizens and those visiting North Carolina, and also provides a boost to the local economy."
Governor McCrory said the zoo pumps an estimated $150 million each year into the regional economy, but has the potential to attract even more visitors.
During his visit, the governor met with Zoo Director Dr. David Jones and Deputy Director Mary Joan Pugh. They led Governor McCrory on a tour of several of the zoo's most popular exhibits. Among them is the polar bear exhibit, which is undergoing an $8.5 million expansion and renovation using state and private funds the zoo received three years ago. The exhibit, which is due to open in the fall of 2014, was one of the most recent exhibits to receive significant state funding for capital improvements.
The governor also visited the KidZone, a special interactive area for children, and the gorilla exhibit, where a pair of one-year-old youngsters have become one of the zoo's top attractions. At the elephant overlook, the governor met with students from the Zoo School, a science and environment-oriented satellite operation of Asheboro High School.
The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.