ASHEBORO, NC - Long recognized for its natural exhibits of living animals, it was robotic replicas of prehistoric critters that helped the North Carolina Zoo post one of the busiest weekends in its history over the Easter holidays.

By closing time Monday, 33,294 visitors had passed through the zoo turnstiles over the four-day Easter weekend. It was the second largest attendance over the same four-day period in zoo history, exceeded only by the mark of 36,510 visitors set in 2010.

The 2012 Easter weekend also included the fourth largest single-day attendance in park history with 13,242 visitors. The all-time, single-day mark of 17,499 was set on December 26, 1989. That date was one of three free admission days offered by the zoo during Christmas and was spurred by the birth of the zoo's first and only baby gorilla nine months earlier. Free Christmas admission has since been discontinued.

Zoo officials say this past weekend's attendance can be credited in large part to publicity generated by a new dinosaur exhibit which opened March 31. Fifteen animatronic creatures representing more than a dozen dinosaur species inhabit a forest exhibit near the African Pavilion created just for the first-time attraction at the zoo. Tickets for the dinosaur exhibit are $4 in addition to regular zoo admission prices of $12 for adults, $8 for children 2-12 and $10 for seniors 62-plus. Combo tickets that reduce the cost of the dinosaurs and other extra-cost attractions are also available.
The zoo is located on Zoo Parkway (N.C. 159) six miles southeast of Asheboro off U.S. 220 and U.S. 64. Hours from April through October are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call 1-800-4888-0444 or visit the zoo Web site at

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