Zoo’s drive nears goal

By Todd Cohen

ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoological Society is nearing completion of a campaign to raise $6 million for the pachyderm exhibit at the North Carolina Zoo.

Through December, the pachyderm campaign had raised $5.95 million, including $2.25 million raised in 2005, Williams says.

In 2005, the Zoo Society raised $3.95 million, exceeding its goal for the year by $450,000, says Russ Williams, executive director.

This is the sixth straight year the zoo’s fundraising arm has raised more than $3.2 million.

Fund raised in pachyderm campaign will be used to create a larger elephant exhibit area and a new holding area for a larger herd of African elephants, and to retrofit the zoo’s 30-acre African Plains area that has been home to antelope and birds so it can handle a herd of rhinos as well.

The idea is to open the facilities in 2007 with herds that by then should number seven or more elephants, and even more rhinos, and then breed both herds until each totals 10 to 12 pachyderms.

In 2005, for the first time since a campaign in the mid-1980s for its North American region that raised $7 million privately, the Zoo Society asked its long-term supporters to make three-to-five-year commitments, Williams says.

The Zoo Society wants to raise several hundred thousand dollars more to transport and even acquire rhinos and elephants.

It also will be raising money to add educational and interpretive features to the pachyderm exhibit.

And it is raising another $1.5 million to build an exhibit area at Sylvan Heights Waterfowl, a facility in Scotland Neck in Northeastern North Carolina that breeds rare and endangered waterfowl.

That fundraising is targeting to other zoos and their supporters throughout the U.S. and already has raised $750,000.

The facility, the second-largest of its kind in the world, provides mainly ducks, geese and swans that are exhibited in zoo and aquarium facilities throughout North America.

“In supporting them, we’re supporting the North Carolina Zoo and its programs, and all the zoos interested in them,” Williams sa

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