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The North Carolina Zoo recently welcomed Maria Ines Perez, the 30 millionth guest since the site opened to the public in August 1974.

Zoo honors its 30 millionth visitor

ASHEBORO — In late May, the North Carolina Zoo celebrated another historic milestone: It welcomed its 30 millionth guest since the site opened to the public in August 1974.


Maria Ines Perez, the lucky 30 millionth guest, stepped through the North America gates with her family to be greeted with enthusiastic cheers and warm welcomes from Zoo team members eager to celebrate the landmark moment.


It was Perez’s first visit to the North Carolina Zoo. She and her family received a special gift basket containing:

- A gift shop voucher and lifetime family membership courtesy of the North Carolina Zoo Society.

- A private animal encounter and complimentary Zoofari experience courtesy of Zoo staff.

- Meal vouchers courtesy of the Zoo’s food service provider (Service Systems Associates, SSA).

- And assorted North Carolina Zoo memorabilia.

“As we celebrate 50 WILD YEARS at the North Carolina Zoo, we give thanks to those who laid the groundwork for us to evolve into the organization we are today,” Zoo Director and CEO Patricia Simmons said. “Reaching 30 million all-time guests is a testament to the profound impact of the North Carolina Zoo on our community and beyond.


“We are incredibly grateful to every guest who enters our gates, as every visit contributes to our conservation efforts locally and around the world. This milestone marks another significant chapter in our story and reminds us of how far we’ve come.”


In a subsequent press release, the world’s largest natural habitat zoo noted that it is renowned for its expansive habitats, innovative conservation and education efforts, and commitment to providing exceptional care to the animals and plants living on the Zoo’s 2,800+ acres. 


“It was a real surprise for us and a great gift for my little ones,” Perez said. “We are grateful to the Zoo team for making it possible, and we are excited to share with friends so they can also experience the North Carolina Zoo!”