Contact:  Tom Gillespie

ASHEBORO, N.C. -The North Carolina Zoo's new 4-D, special-effects theater has now opened its 2009 season, featuring "Wild Earth Africa."

Since 2002, one of the Zoo's most popular attractions has been the, SimEx-Iwerks! theater. With the addition of 4-D effects in recent years, the SimEx-Iwerks! experience not only allows the audience to see the action in three dimensions, but also involves them personally by sending bubbles, harmless water sprays and other special effects onto the gallery. Starting this spring, the theater gets a new location in the Junction Plaza at the center of the zoo and will be expanded from 18 to 40 seats.

The day-to-day activities of a wildlife conservancy are given the "4-D" treatment in a brand new film for 2009. After a young boy witnesses the shooting of a zebra on his way to school, he's shocked when the "poacher" visits his classroom. When two unidentified men are spotted with a rifle, rangers are dispatched to apprehend them, protecting the animals at all costs. Concluding a long day, members of a group on safari are awed by a pride of feasting lions found by the veteran Masaai tracker.

Filmed entirely at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, "Wild Earth Africa 4-D Experience"is a co-production of the St. Louis Zoo, North Carolina Zoo and SimEx-Iwerks! Entertainment. Weaving the stories of a lion tracker, animal doctor, armed poachers, game rangers and a young boy into an exciting wildlife adventure, the film features never-before-seen 3-D footage of Africa's wildest animals.

Additionally, April weekends at the N.C. Zoo will be packed with animal birthday parties, "Eggstrazaganza," "Earth Day," animal enrichment events and keeper talks. See the zoo's Web site,, for details.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.