Home Local News N.C. Zoological Society awarded $2M gift from SECU Foundation for Asia habitat...

N.C. Zoological Society awarded $2M gift from SECU Foundation for Asia habitat addition

Left to right holding check is Pat Simmons, director and CEO, North Carolina Zoo; John Ruffin, board chair, NC Zoo Society; Jama Campbell, executive director, SECU Foundation; Cheryl Armstrong, executive director, NC Zoo Society; Bob Brinson, board chair, SECU Foundation; and Smedes York, a campaign cabinet leader, NC Zoo Society. Contributed photo

ASHEBORO —The world’s largest natural habitat zoological park, the North Carolina Zoo, will soon undergo an expansion and the addition of a new Asia habitat complex with the help of a $2 million gift from the member-funded SECU Foundation. The announcement was made yesterday in Asheboro to highlight the Foundation’s gift to the North Carolina Zoological Society.

Funding from the Foundation will enable the Zoo to expand its capacity for education and outreach for both virtual and in-person visits through the SECU Visitor View Pavilion and Classroom in Asia, the centerpiece of the new 10-acre complex. The Pavilion and Classroom will offer a formal venue for interactive learning and a glass observation wall overlooking an indoor primate habitat. It will also provide a closer look at Komodo dragons, gibbons, giant salamanders, king cobras, and other animal species.

(Editor’s Note: Click here to read more about the zoo’s Asia expansion.)

“North Carolina is most fortunate to have a world-class facility that is dedicated to protecting wildlife populations and their living habitats while educating the community about conserving the natural world,” said Bob Brinson, SECU Foundation board chair. “Education is one of the Foundation’s core areas for giving, and we are pleased to support the Zoo’s expansion project to further enrich experiences for visitors of all ages.”


The North Carolina Zoo welcomes nearly 1,000,000 guests annually, including 100,000 school children through field trips. Virtual education programs have been offered by the Zoo since 2020 with a viewership of over six million from 63 North Carolina counties, 42 other states, and 18 foreign countries. This will be the Zoo’s first opening of a new habitat region since 1994.

“The NC Zoo Society is honored to have been selected as an SECU Foundation grant recipient. Partnerships like this will help us build the new Asia Habitat expansion and continue our goal of securing a safe and enduring future for the Zoo and its programs,” said NC Zoo Society Board Chair John Ruffin.

“Bringing the world’s continents to the North Carolina Zoo has always been our goal, and this generous gift brings us closer to our mission and celebrates the uniqueness of the animals and culture of Asia,” said Director and CEO Pat Simmons of the North Carolina Zoo.

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