The lush rainforest interior of the African Pavilion holds rare species of exotic plants, an energetic troop of baboons and treasures waiting to be found. Plan to explore this exhibit on your next visit!
Step inside this large exhibit for an African tropical plant walk. Enjoy the lushly planted gardens and learn about the importance of conserving tropical plant species. Staghorn ferns, coffee plants, cola trees, queen sago palms, banana trees, tamarind trees and oil palms are but a few of the many exotic plants you will see in this exhibit. Many of the plants in the Pavilion have been grown from seeds collected in Cameroon as part of the North Carolina Zoo's international field programs. Download the tropical plant walk map or guide for details on the exhibit.
Coffee TreeThe dried seeds or "beans" of this tropical African native are roasted and brewed to make one of the most important beverages in the western world. Coffee is now grown extensively in South American and coffee grown under the natural shade of canopy trees preserves forest and animal (particularly bird) habitat. Hummingbirds, swallows, warblers, orioles, tanagers and other migratory and native birds find a safe haven in the remaining forests of shade coffee plantations.
Alligator PepperAlligator pepper is one of West Africa’s most frequently used medicinal plants. Leaves, stems, roots and fruit are used to treat many illnesses and are also added to magnify the effects of other medicinal plants. The leaves are used to wrap food before cooking and also in soups and stews to impart flavor. All parts of this plant have a sweet pepper smell.
African Oil PalmOil palms originated in the tropical rain forests of West Africa. Palm oil, derived from the seeds, is used in the manufacture of cooking fats, soaps, candles and as a lubricant in other industries. In Africa, palm oil is widely used for cooking and to mix and apply medicines to the skin. Palm wine is made from the sap and the huge leaves are used to decorate for holidays and ceremonies. Leaflets are woven into baskets and the center stems are stripped and bundled into brooms.
The NC Zoo has one of the largest troops of baboons in the United States. This dynamic group has three male units, each with their harem of females and young. The males are easy to spot with their heavy white mane and they are much larger than the females. Baboons spend much of their time grooming each other, searching through each other's fur for dirt, bugs and parasites. This behavior helps the animals stay clean and healthy, but it has an even more important role in their social lives. Social grooming reduces tension and it seems to satisfy the animals' need to touch one another. It may also serve to strengthen ties between group members.