Mapping Out a Plan
How can people better connect with the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountains? WDM teamed with the Zoo, City of Asheville leaders and their strategic planning partner to map out a plan.
Master Plan Highlights:
- Change the entry location for better access from parking and better flow inside the zoo
- New low-cost exhibits
- Interactives and play areas added
- New habitats showcase species once native to the area: “Prehistoric Appalachia”
- New building for native amphibians and other smaller animals
The parking lot is terraced in three sections which traverse the hill. The previous entry was positioned at the upper terrace off one of the smaller lots. Guests had to go up stairs and through a small building. This sequence was not highly visible, not handicapped accessible, not welcoming, and congested.
Advantages to the arrival experience with New Entry
- It offers more direct entry as it is central to the parking area, and specifically aligned with the largest, middle lot
- It is highly visible, spacious and accessible
- Guests enter into a more open area of the zoo where they can decide which way to go to begin their zoo adventure
- It includes more space for gift shop, concessions and guest services
All of these things create an entry experience that is welcoming, distinctive and functional.
Red Panda Exhibit
While most of the zoo collection are animals native to Western North Carolina, Red Panda is unique to their collection. The red panda’s ancient cousin once lived in the Western North Carolina region. Bristol’s Panda (Pristinailurus bristoli) is an ancient North American relative of the living red panda whose fossils have been discovered at the Gray Archaeological Site in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee. Western North Carolina’s climate and ecosystem is almost identical to the lower mountain forests of Central Asia where red pandas currently live.