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Zoos in North Carolina give you the opportunity to get close to exotic animals and learn about unique habitats found here and around the world. At the Greensboro Science Center’s SciQuarium you can get close to stingrays in the touch pool. There is also a zoo and museum here, and you can see a fishing cat, peacock mantis shrimp, a green anaconda, a red lionfish, an eartheater, and a moon jelly.
You’ll feel like you are on a real African safari when you tour the 40 acres of rolling grasslands at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. You can also see more than 3,000 tropical plants, dozens or exotic birds, learn about who lives in hot and dry deserts, and visit a rocky ice coast. For something different, check out the Sylvan Heights Bird Park in Scotland Neck – this spot is world-renowned for its work to breed and protect rare birds. Birds here come from every continent – the Africa Aviary has an Abyssinian blue-winged goose, an African black duck, and a white-backed duck. In Surf City, the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center lets you be a part of the effort to save these magnificent animals.
A treasure awaits in the Mountain Region of North Carolina, just north of Charlotte. The Carolina Raptor Center is located on Mountain Island in the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, surrounded by Mountain Island Lake. This incredible center promotes the conservation of several species of raptors and birds of prey.
The rehabilitation center treats an average of seven hundred injured and orphaned raptors each year. Stroll along the 3/4 mile trail to see these wonderful raptors and learn more about them. Enjoy one of the several Raptor Center flight shows to see these beautiful creatures in action. The center's educational exhibits make learning fun for the whole family. Before leaving the island, be sure to make time to visit the Historic Latta Plantation and learn more about this short-staple cotton plantation.
One of the official aquariums for the state of North Carolina, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island features the largest collection of sharks in the state. You’re not just looking at tanks here – you can touch alligators and feed stingrays while also checking out a multitude of other interactive exhibits. The aquarium is located along U.S.64 in Manteo on Roanoke Island, just across from Kill Devil Hills and the Outer Banks.
Enjoy one of the top attractions in North Carolina. The North Carolina Zoo is comprised of 1,371 acres, making it the world's largest "walk-through" natural habitat zoo. Walk through 500 acres of exhibits, in this state-owned zoo, to learn about the 1,100 animals from 250 species. Popular attractions and exhibits include the Dora and Diego 4D Adventure, the Giraffe Deck, ZooFLING and Lemur Island.
The Prairie Geyser, Garden Friends Playground and the Carousel are fun for little zoo explorers. Convenient lodging is available with Best Western hotels, in Greensboro 27 miles from Asheboro. While in Greensboro, visit the Greensboro Children's Museum and the Natural Science Center of Greensboro, to round out your western North Carolina visit.
Located in the town of Concord and just north of Charlotte, the SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord Aquarium features a wealth of outstanding family-friendly attractions. Guests will explore over 36,000 square feet of aquatic exhibits – home to some 5,000 sea creatures.
Some of the must-sees at SEA LIFE includes the 180-degree ocean tunnel, where sharks, rays, and plenty of tropical fish surround and the interactive quiz trail. Apart from the 20 scenic displays, the aquarium also features and children’s play area.
Between the border of North Carolina and South Carolina, lies Lake Wylie and its 325 miles of shoreline. The McDowell Nature Center & Preserve is nestled along the Lake Wylie shoreline, southwest of Charlotte. Outdoor enthusiasts will love spending time at this forested 1,108-acre nature preserve. Begin your visit at the Nature Center to learn more about this wonderful preserve, the oldest in Mecklenburg County.
The natural flora and fauna inhabiting the preserve, includes birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals, totaling more than 175 species. The variety of spring wild flowers includes the federally endangered, Schweinitz's Sunflower. Continue your exploration of the preserve on one of the nine hiking trails, ranging from easy to moderate. Let the kids run off some energy at one of the playgrounds, while setting up a picnic lunch.