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“Sad day at the zoo”

Western North Carolina Nature Center
Ranked #12 of 185 things to do in Asheville
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Visit the Western North Carolina Nature Center - home to over 60 species of animals including river otters, black bear, red wolves and cougars. The Western North Carolina Nature Center connects people with the animals and plants of the Southern Appalachian Mountain region by inspiring appreciation, nurturing understanding, and advancing conservation of the region's rich biodiversity. The Nature Center is proud to be accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. Less than 220 facilities in the United States have met the high accreditation standards set by AZA
Level Contributor
190 reviews
70 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 248 helpful votes
“Sad day at the zoo”
Reviewed 6 June 2014

This small zoo definitely needs an overhaul. The animal habitats are badly over grown, making it difficult to see them. The animals appeared to be cared for, but several paced their cages incessantly, as if they were hungry. Maybe we arrived just before feeding time, but I worried about several of them. Staff were nonexistent except for at the front entrance, and we were greeted by three (two of which were sitting on the ground playing on their phones completely ignoring visitors). The exception was what appeared to be a volunteer in the petting zoo who constantly reminded people to keep their hands out of the donkey pen because the animals bite. Who puts biting animals adjacent to the petting zoo for goodness sake? My instinct is to say to avoid this attraction, but I worry that if people don't go the place will continue to decline and the animals will suffer for it.

Visited June 2014
4 Thank CSmithATLGA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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561 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Asheville, North Carolina
Level Contributor
49 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Small but valuable”
Reviewed 1 June 2014

This little nature center is packed with information about our surroundings. As a recent import, I was intrigued to see what would be in the yard, around the neighborhood, and on the hiking trails. My son is out of high school, but was entranced by the exhibits.

Visited July 2013
2 Thank fibersong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Charlotte, North Carolina
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Terrible! Feel sorry for the animals there!”
Reviewed 1 June 2014

No staff seen in park except at check-in, animal cages overgrown and did not look taken care of, walkways dirty and covered with debris making it hard to drive stroller, unfriendly volunteer at farm petting zoo, very few animals and most looked decrepid. This is poor excuse for a zoo and should not even be open. We feel sorry for the animals there.

Visited May 2014
1 Thank Kohn45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Asheville, North Carolina
Level Contributor
83 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“A must for families with younger children”
Reviewed 31 May 2014 via mobile

I have visited the nature center countless times since I was a child and it has most definitely gotten better with time. Smaller on the zoo scale but packed with extras along the way. All the animals habitats are of good size and nicely kept. The whole stroll through the center is nicely shaded. And there are several pit stops between exhibits like my kids favorite the otter slide. Also a spider web climbing tower, a puppet theater, build a fort station and a all natural wood blocks building area. There is a petting area and all over they have snuck in education tidbit that just feel like fun for the kids. We packed our lunch and had a picnic on one of the tables. My kids are 2 and 6 and we spent @4 hours with eating and letting them play at every stop. I think this is still worth a visit with older kids or just a couple or solo there is a off the paved path short hike and the whole center feels like it's set in a forest, very relaxing and refreshing. And it supports a great mission of reusing and rehabilitating our mountains native animals.

2 Thank Jdehart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
South Berwick, Maine
Level Contributor
95 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“So Much Fun For Kids”
Reviewed 24 May 2014

We took our granddaughters here. They live in the area and have been here many times but always enjoy seeing the animals again. We love that all the animals are native to North Carolina. We liked the cougars the best. They came right over to the glass and looked right at us and sit in front of us! There is a new spider park that is like a jungle gym for kids and kids can climb all over the nylon webs! They loved this part! We would definitely go there again. A fun place and very educational!!

Visited May 2014
1 Thank myajenna
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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