ASHEBORO, NC - With one day remaining in the month of June, the North Carolina Zoo on Friday approached near-record attendance for the spring quarter (April, May and June) while being recognized with prestigious awards from two highly-respected travel industry publications-Our State magazine and the Trip Advisor website.

"Dinosaurs," a temporary exhibit featuring 15 roaring, snarling animatronic replicas of creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago, continued to attract zoo visitors in high numbers. With one more day to be added to the June total, 372,133 people had passed through the zoo gates during April, May and June 2012. That marks the second highest spring quarter attendance in park history. The highest spring quarter total of 384,677 people was set in 1995 and coincided with the grand opening of the park's North America region entrance along with a number of major exhibits, including the Rocky Coast complex featuring polar bears, Alaskan seabirds and the seal/sea lion exhibit.

Meanwhile, the July edition of "Our State" that hit magazine stands this week included the N.C. Zoo among "100 North Carolina Icons." The magazine's list included an eclectic array of people, places, institutions, music, foods and other icons that are both world famous and distinctly endemic to the Tar Heel state. From individuals such as Dean Smith and Richard Petty to attractions like the Blue Ridge Parkway and Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to pork barbecue and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Our State editors included the State Zoo among 100 icons of North Carolina culture.

Zoo officials also learned this week that users of TripAdvisor ®, the world's largest website devoted to travel planning, had given the N.C. Zoo 4.5 out of a possible 5-point rating among tourist attractions worldwide.

"TripAdvisor has become the world's largest travel site by recognizing the power of traveler feedback," officials with the website said in a letter notifying the zoo of the award. "And today we're proud to recognize the North Carolina Zoo for earning exceptional traveler ratings over the past year.....With a rating of 4.5, the (zoo) has earned a place among the very best..."

Responding to the TripAdvisor® and Our State announcements, Zoo Director Dr. David Jones said, "Our North Carolina Zoo, with its uniquely beautiful and carefully crafted natural exhibit landscapes, is truly one of the state's finest gems."

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