By Todd Cohen
AHSEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro will get some free advertising throughout the state, while its fundraising arm is helping the Baghdad Zoo recover from war in Iraq.
Free billboard space worth $550,000 is on tap for the North Carolina Zoo, thanks to a donation from Fairway Outdoor Advertising, a division of Morris Communications Co. in Augusta, Ga.
The 20 ads will be placed throughout the state over the next year to help build awareness and boost attendance.
David Jones, the zoo’s director, says the boost is needed in the wake of a fiscal year during which attendance plunged to 576,000 visitors, the fewest in a decade.
At the same time, the North Carolina Zoological Society, which raises money for the zoo, has given $35,000 to the International Fund for Animal Welfare to support and rehabilitate animals at the Baghdad Zoo.
The fund is coordinating assistance and has spent more than $140,000 for food, equipment and veterinary supplies for the zoo, which has more than 80 animals and has reopened.
Many of the animals were rescued in the Baghdad area after the recent war.
The Zoo Society also has received $10,000 from Sara Lee Branded Apparel to help bring an Australian Walkabout exhibit to the zoo, and has named five new corporate members – FirstPoint Inc., Ingersoll-Rand Co., John Deere Turf Care, Earth Tech Inc. and Delta Controls Inc.