Sunday, May 26

Summer Underway at NC Zoo

ASHEBORO N.C. – With Asia not expected to be completed until 2026 it’s easy to think there isn’t much to do or see at the North Carolina Zoo this summer, but you’d be wrong. From adorable babies, an impressive dog show, and newly renovated habitats, this summer is the perfect time to take a trip to the Zoo.

Canine Champions for Conservation

Alyssa Buller watches as one of her dogs performs during the Canine Champions for Conservation attraction at the NC Zoo. [Scott Pelkey | North State Journal]

Chris Collier and Alyssa Buller will be at the North Carolina Zoo this summer with their highly trained dogs for a show that features jumps, obstacle courses, and other demonstrations. Collier and Buller have performed all over the country, and their dogs have even been featured on season two and three of America’s Top Dog.

This summer, they are partnering with the zoo to combine their show with the zoo’s mission of conservation education. The show will feature information about endangered species and how we can all help protect them.

Shows run twice a day from Tuesdays through Fridays and three times a day on Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day weekend (September 4th). The show is free with zoo admission or membership, and it is weather dependent

Chris Collier introduces one of his dogs during the Canine Champions for Conservation attraction at the NC Zoo. [Scott Pelkey | North State Journal]
Tuesdays – Fridays11 am & 1 pm
Saturday and Sunday11 am, 1 pm, & 2:30 pm

You can find the attraction’s theatre in Africa between the Flamingo and Gorilla habitats.

Map provided by NC Zoo

See The Babies!

The NC Zoo has had a string of births in the last few months, and they are all doing well and out where guests can see them.

Fenn – Giraffe Calf
Baby Giraffe Fenn hangs out with Amelia on habitat at the NC Zoo. [Scott Pelkey | North State Journal]

On May 23rd, 2023, the Zoo announced that thier 13-year-old giraffe Leia gave birth to her calf. The public voted on the name, and after more than 100,000 votes, the zoo announced that the winning name was “Fenn.”

Fenn was about six feet tall and 145 pounds when he was born on May 20th of this year and is expected to grow to 10-12 feet by his first birthday and reach full height at four years old. 

Fenn has been out on habitat with the other Giraffes since late June.

Sand Cat Kittens
Photo provided by the North Carolina Zoo

If you’ve watched the National Geographic show Secrets of the Zoo – North Carolina since it premiered three years ago, you might remember the excitement surrounding the birth of sand cat kitten Layla to Cosmo and Najma in late 2020.

As part of the Sand Cat Species Survival Plan and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Najma has since moved to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, and Layla has been transferred to the Greensboro Science Center.

Cosmo is still at the North Carolina Zoo, and he and his new mate Sahara recently welcomed triplets on May 11th, 2023. The three kittens were named Amira (Arabic for “princess”), Cleo (after Cleopatra, the iconic queen of Egypt), and Jabari (Arabic for “brave/fearless”).

All three kittens, as well as their parents, are now on exhibit in the Desert Dome. You should be able to hear the ‘awwing’ from the crowds they draw as you approach the old porcupine exhibit.

Baby Chimpanzee
Moma Gigi holds her baby as toddler Obi comes in for a closer look. [Scott Pelkey | North State Journal]

The Zoo has had two baby chimps born in recent months. On Sunday, May 21, a healthy baby boy was born to chimp Gigi, in the habitat in full view of guests, and on July 1st, a healthy baby girl was born to chimp Genie.

Veterinarians at the Zoo say that both mothers and babies are doing well and can be seen in their habitat. Chimp mothers hold the infants close to their chest until about four months of age; only then are they allowed on the ground to begin exploring.

The most recent chimp born at the zoo marks the seventh birth at the North Carolina Zoo since 2010, making the Zoo currently the most successful Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoo for breeding chimps.

Baboon Habitat is Back

Baboons hang out in their new habitat now open in Africa after a yearlong renovation. [Scott Pelkey | North State Journal]

In the 45 years the Baboons have been at the Zoo they have become one of the most popular attractions, and the Zoo’s troop of twenty-two baboons, ranging in age from senior adults to infants, is the largest in the United States (tied with San Diego Zoo).

From March 2022 until May 2023, the Baboons had been living behind-the-scenes on zoo grounds during the renovation and additions to their habitat. Now guests are getting to explore the new habitat and see the Baboons again.

Some of the renovations include a larger viewing window, better views of the Safari habitat, a new holding area, and improved ADA access.

After the demolition of the old Africa Pavilion at the NC Zoo only two parts of the building remain and were incorporated into the new Baboon habitat. [Scott Pelkey | North State Journal]

While the renovated habitat uses existing parts of the Africa Pavillion, such as the old utility building and the viewing window, it looks and feels like a new area.

Don’t Forget About the Seasonal Attractions

Kaleidoscope Butterfly Garden
[Scott Pelkey | North State Journal]

The Kaleidoscope Butterfly Garden, located in Junction Plaza, is an immersive, walk-thru habitat features dozens of different butterfly species living among tropical plants and colorful flowers. Purchase your tickets at the ticket booth near the Junction Tram Stop.

Photo credit – NC Zoo

Open through October, kids can ride zebras, bears, sea lions, elephants, gorillas, and other animals on the Zoo’s 36-foot Endangered Species Carousel located in Junction Plaza.

The ride is ADA compliant and includes a swan bench seat that accommodates wheelchairs.