ASHEBORO, NC – The North Carolina Zoo will be closed Saturday as crews continue to remove hundreds of trees damaged by strong winds from Thursday’s hail storm.

On Sunday, the zoo’s North America Region will reopen as usual, while the Africa Region will remain closed.

“Our concern is for the safety of our staff, visitors and animals mostly from hanging branches and leaning trees,” said Dr. David Jones, director of the zoo. 

Thursday’s strong storm packed high winds and large hailstones and caused dozens of trees to fall blocking all the service roads and many walkways at the zoo. The zoo’s emergency protocol quickly went into place. No staff or animals were hurt, but fallen trees did damage some signs, fences, table umbrellas, glass doors and panels.  

Cleanup crews from all the zoo’s departments are removing storm debris from walkways and exhibits, focusing on the North America Region. The damage is much greater in the zoo’s Africa Region, which is why it will remain closed throughout the weekend.

On Sunday, the zoo will only charge half price for admission since only the North America Region will be open. Combo tickets will not be available. Zoo officials will continue to closely monitor cleanup efforts throughout the park to ensure the safety of visitors, staff and animals.

For information on daily operational status, the public can visit the zoo’s website at

The North Carolina Zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Donald R. van der Vaart, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor.