North Carolina Zoo adding space to help staff

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ASHEBORO, N.C. -- The North Carolina Zoo’s next addition won’t be an animal or exhibit but a building it will use to give the art, horticulture and maintenance crews more room.

The zoo is talking over the former Randolph Telephone Membership Corp. building near Old Cox and Panther Creek roads.

The building and 35 acres were sold for $1.3 million.

Zoo leaders said there are no set plans for which departments will move in and a meeting set for next week will help the organization determine which departments would benefit the most from being housed together.

“For a long time we've had storage problems a lot our equipment is outdoors and we also have some office space issues,” said Mary Joan Pugh. “We have a horticulture staff -- they're working out of a very, very small building so we're all crowded.”

Pugh said other concerns include the entire art department being crammed into half a break room in the administrative offices and most of the exhibit building being done outside with little protection from the elements.

“This is totally to take care of some of our backlot problems, this is not for new exhibits,” said Pugh.

Pugh said the zoo also sees the additional building as freeing up space to possibly add some covered areas where they can park vehicles so they hold up better over time.

“We're just overgrown we have not paid any attention to the back areas and most of our equipment is sitting out in the open,” said Pugh.