ASHEBORO N.C.—The world’s tallest animals will soon be eating from North Carolina Zoo visitors’ hands thanks to a gift this week to the Zoo Society from loyal donors who asked to remain unnamed. The $201,000 gift will build a feeding station where visitors will offer healthy treats to giraffes from a raised deck near the Zoo’s Forest Edge overlook.

Giraffes, 14-feet-tall on average, will raise their heads over a safety railing to take food held out for them by visitors. “This generous gift will not only create a fun experience, it will enable one of nature’s most fascinating creatures to literally eat out of the hands of visitors of all ages”, Russ Williams, N.C. Zoo Society Executive Director said. “These personal encounters will serve as physical reminders that each of us ultimately holds the future of the natural world in our hands.”

The same donors also gave another $25,000 this week for a large honeybee sculpture to be part of the N.C. Zoo’s new honeybee exhibit. The zoo broke ground in December on the exhibit that will include a working bee hive and other features to introduce visitors to the North Carolina state insect and its many benefits to our daily lives. Children will be able to safely play on the bee sculpture. Both the honeybee exhibit and the giraffe feeding station are scheduled to open in Spring 2009.

The North Carolina Zoological Society is the private non-profit organization that supports the North Carolina Zoo and conservation. The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources William G. Ross Jr. Secretary; Michael F. Easley Governor.