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NC Zoo says it needs $60 million for improvements

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- The North Carolina Zoo says it needs $60 million in improvements over the next decade, officials announced on Wednesday.

Officials said some of the facilities are "outdated or deteriorating," and park leaders hope the state will borrow $40 million for the effort.

The money would be used to fix maintenance issues and add new attractions to help the zoo stay competitive, according to Zoo Director Dr. David Jones.

The major areas of improvement for the NC Zoo include relocating the Streamside Exhibit to another area to make room for an amazon attraction and adding a third continent of Asia to the 2,200-acre zoo.

The bulk of the renovation cost will go towards to African pavilion that spreads about one acre, originally built in 1984.

"We want to replace that building with three smaller structures that are easier to maintain," Jones said. "The idea is that you would be able to bring into place at two to three year intervals, and in there we will be showing more African animals."

Jones said if the state does not invest in the zoo the same way it has invested in other parks, the zoo will fall farther behind.

Zoo officials said it's important for the zoo to continue to make improvements so they will be eligible for animals moved from other zoos.

The NC Zoo is has approximately 750,000 visitors each year.