Asheboro, NC - Gov. Pat McCrory will be the featured speaker at ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 10:30 a.m. for the North Carolina Zoo’s newly expanded polar bear exhibit.

Joining Gov. McCrory at the podium for the grand opening of the $8.5-million new habitat will be John E. Skvarla, III, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Dr. David Jones, zoo director. The zoo is an agency of DENR.

More than three years in construction, landscaping and animal introductions, the new exhibit triples the size of the zoo’s polar bear exhibit and features greatly increased land space for the bears as well as a stream flowing through its center. State-of-the-art educational graphics and interactive computers tell the story of polar bears and their endangered status in the wild due to the loss of ice packs that provide their hunting grounds.

The exhibit also features an indoor gallery with more educational graphics and television screens as well as glass viewing panels overlooking the exhibit and an artificial ice cave. Behind the scenes, the expanded facilities include larger and improved holding facilities for the bears and a special den for a mother with cubs.

Approximately 60 percent of funding for the expansion was provided by the state legislature with the remainder coming through private contributions to the N.C. Zoological Society, the zoo’s non-profit support organization.  For more information on the new exhibit as well as the grand opening ceremonies visit the zoo’s website at

The zoo is located on Zoo Parkway (N.C. 159) six miles southeast of Asheboro off U.S. 220 and U.S. 64. Operating hours April through October are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children 2-12 and $10 for seniors 62-plus.