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“A chance to see native animals”

Western North Carolina Nature Center
Ranked #10 of 195 things to do in Asheville
Certificate of Excellence
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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
Reviewed May 18, 2014

When we chose to come, I was thinking "nature center" rather than zoo. I haven't been to a zoo in many years, and this is really a zoo. However, this one is very well laid out and well run. The animals look healthy, and the large enclosures are carefully designed, keeping in mind they are still enclosures and some of the animals (cougar, bear, wolf) clearly show the repetitive behavior seen in any zoo. We enjoyed petting the de-musked skunk and meeting the tiny (half-blind) screech owl. Watching the otters play was delightful. There was a pleasant, educational feel to the environment.

Thank Bromelia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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463 - 467 of 643 reviews

Reviewed May 14, 2014

Great day outdoors. The facility has both indoor exibits righjt at the entrance and if the day is nice, walk the not so big outside areas and see the great collection of animals that thye have at the Nature Center. The Center has come a long way with many upgrades and changes. I enjoy it every time I go.

Thank Erik B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 13, 2014

I had friends in town with kids and this was a great place for learning and getting energy out .Petting zoo was fun.

Thank 856sl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 13, 2014

I am local to Asheville. I have been taking my son to the Nature Center since he was a baby. we love walking the shady paths and enjoy being in a controlled environment with native plants and animals.

The Nature Center is a public/city owned center. The center is not over employed and is not meant to provide a Disney experience. It is a small, clean educational place that takes great care of the animals and plant life. The employees there are always kind and extremely well informed about the plants and animals. My son has attended summer camp there for years and always learns so much.

WNC Nature Center participates in the Red Wolf survival program which is fantastic. tens of thousands of school children go to the center each year to learn about the habitats and lives of native wildlife.

There is no restaurant or entertainment shows. This is a quiet place with plenty of sunny and very shady walking paths to offer a sweet little taste of Western North Carolina wildlife. The habitats of the animals are appropriately sized. They have so much space in some instances that you may not see the animals if it is their napping time. I would suggest not getting your kids pumped up to see lots of animals when you go and instead just enjoy what it reveals to you even if it's just some cute little turtles in the pond or a sleeping lounging cougar on a rock. There are a couple of indoor spaces to look at reptiles and such but in general almost all of the nature center is outside and some of the paths can be quite steep.

As you can probably tell I really love this place I live within a mile of it and have enjoyed the positive impact on the local community it is had over the years. If you have kids under 10 and are visiting from out of town I think it is something to consider going to visit.

Thank Avery B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 30, 2014

I hate to leave a bad review but this place just left me feeling so sad. The feeling began just after my husband and I parked and walked into the entrance. Upon entering we bought our tickets in the "welcome center"...the welcome center seems a bit dated and was eerily quiet. I did not see many workers around and perhaps they stay behind the scenes or maybe it was a shift change but it gave me a feeling of being abandoned. Where are the people that help take care of the animals, aren't there any workers scheduled to be around the grounds to field questions about the animals? We walked through the nature center and really did not see much of the animals as they were mostly sleeping. The animals seem quite cooped up and I guess i had expected them to be in larger enclosures. I just get the feeling that there is not enough staff here and it makes me wonder how well the animals are cared for. I really hope that my 16 dollar admission fee for me and my husband goes toward the greater good of these animals.

2  Thank Jennifer C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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