Africa in sights – Targeting $7M

By Todd Cohen

ASHEBORO, N.C. — Expansion of the Africa region at the North Carolina Zoo is the focus of two gifts from Wachovia and BB&T – the zoo’s largest in more than 12 years – and a planned capital campaign.

Wachovia pledged $1 million and will be the named sponsor of the entrance to the zoo’s Africa region.

And BB&T pledged nearly $690,000 to be the named sponsor of the zoo’s chimpanzee exhibit and collection that are scheduled to open May 25.

With those gifts, the North Carolina Zoological Society — the zoo’s fundraising arm — has raised nearly $5 million in private support to help pay for an estimated $55 million to $57 million in planned additions and improvements to the Africa region.

The fundraising group plans a capital campaign to raise another $7 million privately, with the launch hinging on a commitment by state lawmakers to provide $8 million more in capital spending.

Those funds would pay for a new “drylands” exhibit in an undeveloped part of the Africa region featuring people and animals on the fringes of the most arid parts of Northern Africa.

And the zoo hopes the state will provide an additional $25 million over the next six years to complete the Africa region.

The Zoo Society has raised a total of $25 million in private funds since the zoo was established in the early 1970s, including a capital campaign that raised $7.1 million to add the North America region.

Annual fundraising by the group totaled more than $3 million last year, a record.

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