Tap into your wild side by exploring 42 acres of award-winning animal habitats and having a lot of fun along the way. Welcome to Asheville’s Wildlife Park, the WNC Nature Center.
While Asheville has had a zoo since the Great Depression, the Western North Carolina Zoological Society formed in the mid-1970s. In 1977, the Nature Center officially opened its gates to the animal-loving locals of Asheville and beyond.
A few years later in 1981, the River Otter exhibit opened. This is a fan favorite on the campus because not only can you enjoy these cute creatures above and below the water, but you can also do your own best otter impression and slide down like they do.
The Nature Center is populated entirely by animals that either live – or once lived – in the mountains of western North Carolina. Their newest residents, the red pandas, called these mountains home a long, long time ago.
Not only is this place home to amazing creatures you’ll love getting to know, but the campus itself is a beautiful place to wander. Get lost in the tree-covered pathways and soak in the majesty of the mountains along with your animal (and human) friends.
Big cats, wolves, coyotes, black bears, foxes, and many more wild animals roam these parts. There is also a reptile house, a bird sanctuary, and a little tortoise town.
Then there’s the barnyard, a place where you can meet many of the creatures who played a big part in the early farm days of the area. With great interactions and fun, fuzzy creatures, it’s a great place for some up-close interaction.
There are also a couple of natural play areas, a gem and fossil mine, and of course the gift shop. This is a place you’re going to want to visit repeatedly, and luckily, they have memberships that pay for themselves in just two visits. Those memberships also get you discounted access to zoos and aquariums across the entire country.
Plan your visit at WildWNC.org. Then head over to the nature center for a howling good time. Your weekend is waiting… on the Ingles Open Road.
To learn more about Ingles Markets, visit their website at ingles-markets.com.