SECU Foundation donates $2 million for Zoo’s Asia habitat

ASHEBORO — Last week, the SECU Foundation gifted $2 million to assist with the North Carolina Zoo’s new Asia habitat expansion, which is currently under construction. Members from the foundation presented the check at a private event held at the newly renovated baboon habitat.

“Funding from the foundation will enable the zoo to expand its capacity for education and outreach for both virtual and in-person visits through the SECU Visitor View Pavilion and Classroom in Asia, the centerpiece of the new 10-acre complex,” stated the NC Zoo Society and the SECU Foundation in a joint press release. “The Pavilion and Classroom will offer a formal venue for interactive learning and a glass observation wall overlooking an indoor primate habitat. It will also provide a closer look at Komodo dragons, gibbons, giant salamanders, king cobras, and other animal species.” 

The zoo officially broke ground on its new Asia habitat in August 2022, making it the first new continent at the park since North America opened in 1994. Roughly $46 million in funding from the state budget was allocated to the projected. Combined with the approximately $28 million raised through donations by the NC Zoo Society’s capital fundraising campaign, the zoo’s approximate total for the project is around $75 million dollars.

“North Carolina is most fortunate to have a world-class facility that is dedicated to protecting wildlife populations and their living habitats while educating the community about conserving the natural world,” said Bob Brinson, SECU Foundation board chair. “Education is one of the foundation’s core areas for giving, and we are pleased to support the Zoo’s expansion project to further enrich experiences for visitors of all ages.”

“The NC Zoo Society is honored to have been selected as an SECU Foundation grant recipient,” stated John Ruffin, NC Zoo Society board chair. “Partnerships like this will help us build the new Asia habitat expansion and continue our goal of securing a safe and enduring future for the zoo and its programs.”

The new Asia habitat is expected to open in 2026. For more information about the expansion, please visit

By Randolph Record