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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — The North Carolina Zoo is expanding its efforts to protect endangered and unusual plant life as well as animals.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Thursday that the zoo is buying a 110-acre tract of Montgomery County land that’s home to thousands of old-growth longleaf pines, some of them 200 years old.

The zoo used grant money, private donations and help from land conservation groups to secure the land near its park in Asheboro from a family that has owned it for more than a century.

The zoo has been working to buy the property for a couple of years through its Plant Conservation Program. That’s part of the state-owned zoo’s mission to provide recreational and education opportunities while preserving space for native plants and animals.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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