Asheboro, N.C., Dec. 22, 2014 … Hendrick Construction completed the $8.5-million new habitat for polar bears at the N.C. Zoo last month. The exhibit triples the size of the zoo's polar bear exhibit and features greatly increased land space for the bears.

The purpose of the exhibit is to educate visitors about the plight of polar bears and the broader issues of habitat loss. State-of-the-art educational graphics and interactive computers in the 4,500-square-foot visitor center tell the story of polar bears and their threatened status in the wild. There’s also an 800-square-foot viewing shelter overlooking the exhibit and an artificial ice cave.  

“Polar bears have always have been one of our most popular animals at the zoo,” said North Carolina Zoo General Curator Ken Reininger. “Many people do not have the opportunity to go to the Artic and see polar bears and learn about the dangers they face in the wild. Our newly expanded exhibit will help people draw a connection between the two.”

Behind the scenes, the expanded facilities include a 5,000-square-foot holding facility for the bears and a special den for a mother with cubs.   

The expansion project was designed with environmentally sustainable features, such as recycled materials, storm water drainage strategies, and energy-efficient fixtures and mechanical systems.

“We have been thrilled to be involved with another exciting attraction for the zoo,” said Roger Hendrick, president of Hendrick Construction. “The expanded polar bear exhibit is a landmark project for the zoo and the state of North Carolina.”

This is the second project Hendrick Construction has completed at the N.C. Zoo. The company previously built five barns to expand the North Carolina Zoo’s 37-acre African Plains habitat. That project included a rhinoceros barn, three hoof-stock barns and a treatment barn with connected paddocks and animal holding facilities. Those buildings will house rhinoceroses, gazelles, antelope and other plains animals.

Approximately 60 percent of funding for the polar bear exhibit expansion was provided by the state legislature with the remainder coming through private contributions to the N.C. Zoological Society, the zoo's non-profit support organization.

The zoo is located on Zoo Parkway (N.C. 159) six miles southeast of Asheboro off U.S. 220 and U.S. 64. Operating hours April through October are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for children 2-12 and $10 for seniors 62-plus.  The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary; Pat McCrory, Governor. Visit www.nczoo.org.

Hendrick Construction, Inc. is a Charlotte, N.C.-based general contractor that provides commercial construction services throughout the Southeast. The company’s portfolio includes facilities for corporate headquarters, manufacturing, industrial, health care and bio-tech companies, as well as schools, government buildings, churches, entertainment venues and restaurants.