When we returned home from the beach, our youngest daughter and her four sons came back with us for a visit. We had a couple of nice days that coincided with everyone being healthy (more on that later) and took advantage of those things to take a trip to the North Carolina Zoo.
Although we have a very nice local zoo at the Greensboro Science Center, the state zoo in Asheboro is much larger, with a broader variety of animals. It’s about a forty-minute drive, in a mostly rural area of central North Carolina, which gives them the luxury of settling animals into more natural and extensive habitats.
The weather was practically ideal, starting off cool in the morning but getting warmer as the day went on. Cooler temperatures means more of the animals are roaming around, eating, drinking, and playing rather than sleeping in shady corners and burrows as they do when it gets hotter.
We started at the African end of the zoo where we had sightings of elephants, rhinos, gorillas, chimps, zebras, a lion, and various others I can’t quite recall at the moment. The giraffes were not out, which was a small disappointment, since there is a newborn. That took up most of the morning.
After a stop for lunch, we took the tram to the other end of the zoo, and the North America exhibit. Another disappointment was that the polar bears were not on display, but watching a playful seal made up for it. The crocodiles were impressively large and toothy, but mostly napping. We thought the black bears were huge and scary until we got to the grizzly bear display. Those many six-inch claws made very clear why you wouldn’t want to mess with them. Elk and bison were impressive, too.
By mid-afternoon, we were all flagging, but a stop for Dippin’ Dots provided a burst of energy. The Desert pavilion was quite warm, but filled with unusual birds, reptiles, and small mammals. I knew road runners only from childhood cartoons, but finally got to see one in the flesh!
The zoo has clearly done a lot of work to make itself a friendly place for everyone. The tram only makes three stops – at either end of the zoo and the plaza right in the middle. It’s enough to make it possible to take in a day a zoo which probably stretches out over a couple of miles.
Someone must’ve realized that one of the most disappointing features of the experience for small children is their inability to interact with or even get very close to many of the animals. So they’ve scattered interactive informational signage near the fences and pens, and erected replicas of many of the animals that children can pet and climb on.