ASHEBORO, NC - The North Carolina Zoo's attendance for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009-2010 hit the three-quarter million mark for the first time in 13 years and ranked as the fourth highest annual total in zoo history.

A total of 749,627 visitors passed through the zoo gates between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010. That represents an increase of more than 20,000 visitors over the previous fiscal year ('08-'09) total of 729, 417 and the highest numbers since FY '97-'98 when the total was 782,016. The fiscal year record of 934,455 was set in '94-'95 as the zoo opened an entire new 200-acre North America exhibit region. As a state agency, the zoo operates on a fiscal year budget rather than the calendar year.

Zoo officials credit several factors for the increased attendance, including the opening of two new major exhibits over the past year, the "Acacia Station" giraffe feeding platform and the Lemur Island exhibit. Zoo Director Dr. David Jones also credited an increased target marketing effort that included the integration of Social Media, such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, into the marketing program. Jones said generally good weather during the year and the zoo's value for families still concerned about the wavering economy were also factors.

The zoo is located on Zoo Parkway (N.C. 159) six miles southeast of Asheboro off U.S. 220 and U.S. 64. Summer hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for children 2-12 and $8 for senior citizens 62-plus and college students. For information, call 1-800-4888-04444 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.