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Zoo tops goal for pachyderm exhibit

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ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina Zoological Society has topped its $7 million fundraising goal by $30,000, paving the way for the Zoo to expand its elephant and rhino exhibits.

The recent campaign, Project: Pachyderms, will fund the expansion of the existing exhibit as well as help create the 44-acre Watani Grasslands Reserve, which will house larger elephant and rhino herds.

The entire amount for the project was raised from banks, individuals and foundations, with no funding from the state, Russ Williams, executive director of the Zoo Society, says in a statement.

The Zoo has received no funds from the state of North Carolina for its animals, exhibits or facilities in 15 years, Williams says.

While the budget of the N.C. House of Representatives this year included $3 million for African plains barns and $450,000 for a horticulture building, the Senate budget cut all capital funding requests.

Neither the House nor Senate budgets included the Zoo’s request for $4.25 million for construction of a children’s nature discovery center.

“The private sector has done more than its fair share for 15 years,” Williams says.  “State capital support now is very important to the Zoo’s conservation and education missions, animals and to the 700,000 plus people who visit the Zoo every year.”

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