Asheboro, NC - Spurred by a highly popular dinosaur exhibit as well as a number of significant animal births, the North Carolina Zoo recorded its highest calendar year attendance in 15 years during 2012.

Attendance for the recently completed 12-month period reached 761,964 visitors, the highest total since 1997 when 764,720 people passed through the zoo's gates. In addition, 2012 ranked as the fifth highest calendar-year total in park history. The all-time record of 840,410 was set in 1995 on the heels of grand opening ceremonies for the zoo's second continental exhibit region, North America. The other top-five marks were set in 1994 with 811,655 visitors and 1996 at 764,286.

Zoo officials credit several factors for the increased numbers in 2012, including the popularity of "Dinosaurs," a temporary exhibit featuring 15 animatronic replicas of creatures that roamed the earth millions of years ago. The park also saw the arrival of several noteworthy newborns during the calendar year, including a baby chimp in January, a new giraffe in July and not one, but two infant gorillas in August.

The gorilla deliveries marked only the second and third births of the highly endangered primates in N.C. Zoo history. The first had occurred 23 years before.
The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly E. Perdue, Governor.