Nature Center Improvements

nature center front entrance


Happening Now

New Front Entrance 
The new entrance is open!

The cost for design and construction was $1.35 million, funded in part by the City of Asheville and by the Friends of the WNC Nature Center with support from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s Tourism Product Development Fund and from Festiva. Other contributors include charitable foundations, businesses, and many generous individual donors. 

Red Panda Exhibit
In prehistoric times, the Red Panda’s ancestors inhabited what is now known as the Southern Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee.   The Nature Center is bringing the Red Panda to live here once again in a specially designed exhibit and breeding facility.

Construction of the new exhibit is complete.  It will be unveiled - and the Red Pandas will be introduced - at a ribbon cutting ceremony on February 14, 2019.  This project is funded by the Friends of the WNC Nature Center with generous support by Butch and Kathy Patrick. 


Asheville’s 42-acre WNC Nature Center is home to over 60 species of animals, including river otters, black bears, red and gray wolves and a cougar. Its mission is to connect people with the animals and plants native to 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 and Aquariums.   For more information about the WNC Nature Center, visit their website at 

An active non-profit organization, Friends of the WNC Nature Center, is a vital partner in the center’s growth and success. For more information on the Friends of the WNC Nature Center, or to join the Friends and support future projects, visit


Groundbreaking for the new front entrance 
Design and development of the Red Panda exhibit 

Spring:  Groundbreaking for the Red Panda exhibit
Spring:  Dedication of the new front entrance
Fall:  Red Panda exhibit scheduled for completion

Winter:  Red Panda exhibit ribbon cutting ceremony and introduction of the Red Pandas

Supporting Documents

Photo Gallery:  Front Entrance
Photo Gallery:  Red Panda Exhibit
Staff Report to Council - December 13, 2016
Resolution awarding construction contract - December 13, 2016




Contact Information

Chris Gentile, Director
WNC Nature Center