This article is written in honor and memory of Tommo, the grizzly bear. RIP July 2021.
By now, surely you’ve heard that you can join the zoo. But why? What if you only want to visit the zoo once or twice a year? What if you don't live very close to the zoo?
In this article, I will answer a few of those questions and tell you about what you can expect when you join the zoo. Joining the zoo as a member has some great benefits for you and your family, so we’ll go over those. We’ll also talk about the money because it helps to know what your money is going to support and to plan your budget for things like this.
And by the zoo, I mean the North Carolina Zoo at Asheboro, which is local for residents of Randolph County and the surrounding counties. Let's take a look at the membership program for the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro and cover some of the highlights of becoming a zoo member.
Where does your money go when you join the zoo?
Membership fees for the North Carolina Zoological parks help to support conservation and care initiatives for all of the animals at the zoo. Your membership fees help to support:
- Animal Well-being
- Field Work
What do you get with your Zoo membership?
You get a lot more than free entry to the Zoo at Asheboro when you join, and of course, it matters also where you join. Please check each website for the zoos when you decide to join. When you use the Asheboro zoo’s website, this is what you get for your money:
- Free entry into NC zoo at Asheboro for a full 12 months
- Bypass the long lines with a member’s only entry booth
- Free or half-priced admission to 150 zoos and aquariums including Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park and the North Carolina aquariums (see the current list of partner zoos)
- Free subscription to Alive magazine
- Access to the Zoo Society's members-only picnic decks
- Invitations to members-only events and previews
- Discount on Society behind-the-scenes tours
- Discounts on Ride and a Guide Programs
- Discounts on veterinary and wild animal research camps
Here are the FAQs for the NC zoo membership. You’ll receive a membership card for joining the zoo which you need to present in order to get into the park with your membership benefits. Please call 336.879.7250 if your card has not arrived within two weeks.
How much does it cost to join the NC zoo?
There is a tiered system for zoo memberships so you can choose the level of support you’d like to give the zoo along with the membership benefits that best suit your family. As of July, 2021, here are the different payment levels.
Individual (one person): $59.00 one year / $108.00 two years
Companion (one person / one guest): $79.00 one year / $148.00 two years
Family (2 in-household adults and their children under the age of 18): $84.00 one year / $158.00 two years
Family-PLUS (Family benefits + one guest): $104.00 one year / $198.00 two years
Grandparent (includes membership for two adults in the same house and their grandchildren under the age of 18): $84.00 one year / $158.00 two years
Grandparent-PLUS (includes all grandparent benefits + one guest per visit): $104.00 one year / $198.00 two years
Zookeeper (all family membership + 2 guests per visit): $175.00 one year / $340.00 two years
Curator ( all Zookeeper benefits + one additional guest): $300.00 one year / $590.00 two years
Members 62 and older receive a 20% discount. The park asks that you call to confirm this discount: 336.879.7250.
To make your savings even greater, there are lifetime memberships as well. They range in pricing from $1500 and up for these extended benefits. Call the park to ask about Life Member/Director's Guild, Life Member/President's Club, Life Member/Conservator's Circle.
There are a few things around the park which are not covered or for which there are no discounts and these include rides, special exhibits like the Butterfly house admission, and for concessions or the gift shops.
Is it worth it to join the zoo?
In my opinion, if you go more than once to the zoo in a year, then yes, it is worth it. (Here’s my argument for going twice.)
Here’s the math:
One price of admission for a person 13-61 years of age: $15
Yearly membership for that same person: $59.00
Times to visit to start saving money on your visits: 4 times (once per season. That’s not bad.)
Now, a family of 4 (2 adults, two children)
Ticket costs: $52.00
Membership fees for the year: $84.00
In less than 2 visits, you begin saving money by being a member. Let’s say this same family visits 4X per year, once each season, then their savings per year would be $124.00 per year.
Clearly, if you are thinking of joining the zoo and cost is a factor, you’ll need to choose the tier that works best for you and do the math. But for me, an avid supporter of animals and conservation efforts, I know that my money is helping to support all of those animals and the education programs that keep hundreds of school and camp groups learning about animals, especially all summer long. And I am ok with that.
Plus, I go about once a month. It saves me $121.00 every year! And I am ok with that, too.
This article is written in honor and memory of Tommo, the grizzly bear who resided at Asheboro Zoo (from 1995 until July of 2021). RIP Tommo. You will be greatly missed!
I had the pleasure of seeing him this one last time approximately 5 days before his condition was deemed terminal (declining health due to age and other unknown causes). My heart goes out to all zoo staffers and scientists who had to make the heart-wrenching decision to euthanize him. Necropsy showed severe intervertebral disc disease and a tumor in its adrenal gland. Tommo was 31 years old.
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