ASHEBORO-Reporters, editors, free-lance writers, photographers and videographers are all invited to the North Carolina Zoo on Friday, June 5, for official ribbon-cutting ceremonies of the "Acacia Station," a tree-level deck where zoo visitors can offer food to the giraffes.

Located at the northern edge of the Forest Glade, a three-acre habitat for zebras and ostriches as well as giraffes, the Acacia Station is a first for the N.C. Zoo, lifting visitors into the trees to greet the giraffes while offering a bird's eye view of their habitat.

The $200,000 feeding station was made possible through a gift to the N.C. Zoological Society, the zoo's non-profit fundraising organization for the zoo. It includes a 400-square-foot treated wood platform that gives visitors an exciting new view of the Forest Edge along with the opportunity to offer "browse" to the giraffes. The ceremonies will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a welcome from Dr. David Jones, Zoo Director. Also slated to speak are Russ Williams, Executive Director of the Zoological Society, Ken Reininger, Zoo General Curator, and Dee Freeman, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The zoo is an agency of DENR.

Lexy Labrador, a 17-year-old high school student from Climax, N.C., will be given the first opportunity to feed the giraffes. Labrador won a contest sponsored by the zoo, WGHP-TV in High Point and Clear Channel Radio to name two 14-month-old new giraffes that arrived at the zoo in March. Acacia Station will open to the public the following day on Saturday, June 6.

During its initial operation, Acacia Station will be free to visitors who will have a hand in helping keepers acclimate the zoo's five giraffes to the new feeding deck. Later on a $3 fee will be required to offer "browse" to the animals.

Members of the media are asked to enter the zoo's African Region gates by 1 p.m. to be escorted to the ribbon-cutting ceremonies. For more information, contact Rod Hackney or Tom Gillespie in the zoo's Marketing Division.

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