If you’re looking for something not too out of the way to do other than shopping in Asheville, NC, there are a couple of places that sound interesting. The botanical gardens is free and doesn’t close until 8:30pm. The Arbortorium is similar, but it costs $14 to get into. This may be a great place and we may go back and check it out one day, but on this trip, we were interested in seeing some animals. The Nature Center (zoo) is $10.95 to get into. At the front entrance, they give you a map. It is best to follow this, even though the entire path is mostly boardwalk. Following the map will prevent you from missing something or circling back too soon.
Be sure to click on the individual pictures so you can view them full screen and read the signage. And, of course, click on the Otters video clip. We are sure you will love it.
When you first walk in, you go through the “farm” area. For most country folk, you may be thinking you could see these animals at home, but be patient, it gets better. In the farm area, there are a few breeds of chickens, but they were hard to photograph due to the red heat lamp in the cage. There are stalls where they put the sheep, goats, and donkeys to feed them and to pin them up at the end of the day. During the day, they are out and about in their own little area of the zoo.
The deer and bear are close together (separated by a fence, of course). The deer were rather elusive and we didn’t see them at all. THe bears (2 of them) were out and about, pacing back and forth in the heat.
Next up is the birds of prey section. It was very hard to take pictures of these birds because of them being inside cages number one, and number two they were mostly trying to either hide or get out of the heat inside their wooden boxes (oar maybe they were sleeping). I managed to get a couple of pictires of the hawks, and maybe you’ll be able to tell there’s a barn owl in it’s box somewhere.
After a short little stroll through some foliage (there are little plaques telling you the types of trees in a couple of spots), we arrived at the bobcat and cougar area. The bobcat was just as shy as the deer We couldn’t spot it anywhere. The cougar, however, walked around proudly for us to see it.
Along the way, there are benches to stop and rest and drink and snack machines periodically. The whole trail is about 1.5 miles, so on a hot day, if you didn’t bring your own water, these machines are handy.
Up next is the red wolf and gray wolf. The red wolf was so far into its’ little shed that taking its’ picture was virtually impossible, but we did take a photo, even though it’s probably blurry.. We did see the gray wolf hanging out in its little hut closer to the fence, so his picture is a little more clear.
After the wolves, there is a playground with netting to climb and a few other small things for children to swing from or climb and slide. After this is a nature trail. We didn’t go down it because it was getting late in the day and we still had more animals to see. If you’re there all day, or get there early enough, it might be worth the short little woodsy walk. There is also (up a little further on the boardwalk close to the snack machines) a simulator to show you what it feels like to experience 78 mph mountain top winds. This machine costs a dollar for a minute or two. We passed on it because we’ve experienced severe mountain wind already.
After this, it curves back around to the wolves on the opposite side. Here, you will be able to crank out a howl on a machine for the coyote. We only saw one. He was out an active for picture taking opportunities.
Then, you come across something called a Red Panda, or Bristol Panda. It looks nothing like a Panda Bear, but more like an overgrown raccoon with reddish fur. Yet again, we couldn’t get any good photos of it because it was hiding away from the heat far back on its little shelf. There were a lot of signs about this little guy though, so enjoy learning about what it is
Next are the foxes and the raccoon. We saw the raccoon being playful, swinging around on a tree, but he was moving so fast, the picture came out too blurry to post. We did not get pictures of the gray foxes, the were lying down behind trees and it would’ve just looked a like a lump of fur or maybe like the tree had a growth. We were able to get one picture of the red fox. You can see him in the left corner of the pipe.
The next sections were the songbirds and the turtle pond and amphitheater. Directly after this is a building called Appalachian Station, but it was closed up. There was picture of a snake here on the map, so maybe the have reptile exhibits here or will have in the future. They are planning expansion in 2020. We could hear several birds singing and caught a glimpse of a small one on a limb. If there were more than one turtle in the pond, they must have been underwater. We saw one big fellow sunning on a log. We say he was big because as far as sliders go, he was rather large.
Up next is our personal favorite, Otter Falls. It is named after a young man who used to come enjoy the otters regularly until he passed away with lymphoma. We took several shots of these fun little critters and a short video. There is a small waterfall right before you get to their swimming area and a slide to go down if you’d prefer that way verses the steps. There is also a ramp for the handicap to go down if that is better than the other two methods. The entire walkway is wheelchair friendly with the exception of the nature trail.
After the otters, we’re almost back around to the entrance and the gift shop. There is a log cabin with one of those cardboard cut outs where you can put your face in the hole next to a bobcat and have someone take your picture. There is also a water fountain here if you are thirsty. This cabin is for reserved parties, weddings, or meetings. Just before the cabin, you will see a bunch of metal barrels used for collecting rain water.
We hope you enjoyed this stroll through the zoo with us. If you’re in Asheville, NC and like to see rescued animals, we suggest this little spot. Hopefully when they are done with the expansion, there will be a lot more things going on in 2020. If any of you have pictures of the zoo here, please share them with us via a comment or an email. We’d love to see them. Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel and like us on Facebook and Instagram. If any of you are wanting shirts, click on our post about them and follow the instructions through the PayPal button at the bottom. Don’t forget to list your current mailing address so you will get your stuff safe and sound. We appreciate you all and look forward to bringing you along for our next adventure.