Wednesday, March 13, 2024

North Carolina Zoo Ranks Among Top 10 Best Zoos in the Nation

Mar 13, 2024

The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro was nominated for “Best Zoo” in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for 2024. As the world’s largest natural habitat zoo, the North Carolina Zoo spans over 2,800 acres and cares for over 1,700 animals. The North Carolina Zoo also turns 50 this year, making the nomination an added treat for its golden anniversary.

Nominees for each category are submitted by a panel of experts, and 10Best editors narrow the field to identify a final set of nominees to present for public feedback. Readers were encouraged to vote once per day per category between Feb. 5 and March 4 to show support for their favorite zoos and aquariums on the list.

Results of the nationwide contest were revealed on Wednesday, March 13, with the North Carolina Zoo claiming third place.

“It is an incredible honor to be nominated, and we appreciate the efforts of so many dedicated voters who shared their support of the North Carolina Zoo throughout this process,” says Director and CEO Patricia Simmons. “We offer hearty congratulations to our fellow nominees and 10Best finalists and applaud their continued commitment to excellence in this field. We hope this contest helps spread awareness about the amazing conservation work being done in AZA-accredited facilities across the United States.”

The North Carolina Zoo received its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1984 and is one of only two state-supported zoos in the nation. With over 512 developed acres and plans for further expansion, the North Carolina Zoo is already a must-see destination for families, nature enthusiasts, and conservation advocates alike. The slated grand opening of the North Carolina Zoo’s new Asia region in 2026 will further solidify the Zoo as an unforgettable multi-day experience for guests.

“The North Carolina Zoo was nominated by the experts in part due to its expansive natural habitats and the immersive atmosphere we provide,” says Acting Deputy Director and Chief Communications Officer Diane Villa. “As we celebrate 50 wild years, we encourage new and familiar faces to pay a visit to our beautiful Zoo to experience the magic with us. Seasonal attractions are already starting to reopen, and nothing is lovelier than springtime at the Zoo!”

To plan your next visit, check out

About the North Carolina Zoo  
At the North Carolina Zoo, we celebrate nature. As the world's largest natural habitat Zoo, we inspire a lifelong curiosity about animals in the hundreds of thousands of people who visit our Zoo each year. Our dedicated team of experts provides exceptional, compassionate care for the more than 1,700 animals and 52,000 plants that call our Park home. We also lead efforts locally and globally to protect wildlife and wild places because we believe nature's diversity is critical for our collective future. The North Carolina Zoo invites all of our guests to witness the majesty of the wild in the heart of North Carolina and welcomes everyone to join in our mission to protect nature's diversity. Visit to begin your life-changing journey.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) manages, promotes, and enhances the things that people love about North Carolina – its diverse arts and culture, rich history, and spectacular natural areas. Through its programs, the department enhances education, stimulates economic development, improves public health, expands accessibility, and strengthens community resiliency.

The department manages over 100 locations across the state, including 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, five science museums, four aquariums, 35 state parks, four recreation areas, dozens of state trails and natural areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, the American Indian Heritage Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Office of State Archaeology, the Highway Historical Markers program, the N.C. Land and Water Fund, and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please visit

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