Omaha Zoo worth the two-hour drive north
You would have to travel around the world to see many of the 962 species at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
The Omaha zoo is just two hours north of here by auto and well-worth the excursion. Most of the scenic drive is along U.S. Highway 75.
In August 2014, the Omaha zoo was proclaimed the “world’s best zoo’’ by the online website TripAdvisor.
At the Omaha zoo, you will see everything from penguins and snow leopards to jellyfish and sharks to Samson the gorilla.
The Omaha zoo is nationally renowned for its leadership in animal conservation and research and is also famous for its involvement of breeding endangered species from around the world.
Evolving from the public Riverview Park Zoo established in 1894, today the zoo includes several notable exhibits. It features the largest cat complex in North America. “Kingdoms of the Night’’ is the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit and indoor swamp. The Lied Jungle is one of the world’s largest indoor rainforests, and the “Desert Dome’’ is one of the world’s largest indoor deserts, as well as the largest glazed geodesic dome in the world.
The zoo is Nebraska’s top paid attendance attraction and has welcomed more than 25 million visitors over the past 40 years.
The zoo averages about 6,000 visitors per day (about four times that on a Saturday or Sunday) and about 2 million per year.
Omaha’s zoo has two rides that circumnavigate the zoo (tram and train), a carousel and the Skyfari, an aerial tram which opened in 2009 and which takes visitors from the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion to the new lion viewing exhibit.
Visitors to the zoo can bring in their own bags, coolers and toddler wagons to carry food and drinks around the more than 130 acres of amazing indoor and outdoor exhibits.
The zoo features great outdoor habitats for lions, tigers, giraffes, cheetahs, gorillas, monkeys and other primates.
To walk the entire zoo exhibits and aquariums is the equivalent of walking five or six miles up and down hills. Lots of people make the zoo visit a two-day excursion to break up the walking distance.
Noticably absent from the Omaha zoo and its expansive parking lot, however, was the presence of security officers. On our visits to the zoo Friday and Saturday, no one was at the entrance gate checking bags and there were no metal detectors to walk through either. We thought that was unusual.