The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is one of the most exciting Zoos in the world where you can find many exotic animals of the planet in their natural surroundings. On display is the World’s largest indoor desert, largest nocturnal exhibit, largest swamp and rainforest. Exotic species of Lemurs from Madagascar and the nocturnal exhibit where creatures of the dark await you in the canyon, wet caves and swamps will give you goosebumps. By paying a $500 fee, you can even say “I do” at the Zoo! Yes, believe it or not, you can even get married at the Omaha Zoo.
The Omaha Zoo is located at 3701 South, 10th Street, Omaha, NE 68107-2200. The office can be contacted at (402) 733-8401.
The admission fee is $9 for children and $13.5 for adults. It is open 9am-5pm during March-October and from 10am-4pm rest of the year.
Plan your trip such that you are near the Lied Jungle during lunch time. Durham’s treetop restaurant near the Lied Jungle is the place for a sumptuous lunch overlooking the rainforests.
Expedition Madagascar is one of the most popular exhibits of Omaha Zoo and it gives you a glimpse of the magical world that is Madagascar. Over 160 million years ago, Madagascar moved out of the African Continent and this isolation helped in creating an exotic world of flora and fauna. More than 90% of the species of Madagascar are endemic and hence not found anywhere else. Expedition Madagascar at the Omaha Zoo was created to help the conversation of the fast depleting natural wonders of Madagascar. Take a walk over the outdoor walkthrough and you can spot a variety of Lemurs you wouldn’t have dreamed existed- Black, Brown, Collared, Mongoose, Ring Tailed, Red Ruffed and many more.
Kingdoms of the Night is the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit. This is no normal exhibit and you will have to pass through a eucalyptus forest, a canyon, a wet cave infested with fruit & meat eating bats and even a large swamp to spot the creatures of the dark such as Alligators, Australian Wallabies, Fossa, Flying Squirrels and Beaver Lodges. The day and night schedules are reversed in the exhibit so the animals think it is night when visitors come during the day and hence are out and easily spotted.
LiedJungle is about rainforests of Asia, Africa and South America. The best part is that you can touch, feel, hear, see and smell the rainforest. Hit the dirt trail on the floor of the jungle and you can even spot the rare Pygmy Hippo here! Another option is the walkway above the animals and between both trails you will get a glimpse of Macaws, Tapirs, Monkeys, Gibbons and Crocs. The fiberglass reinforced plastic on the roof provides sunlight and generates growth of the rainforest. A vantage point to the entire rainforest is behind the 50 foot tall waterfall in the South American rainforest section.
Scott’s Aquarium at Omaha Zoo is where you can come face to face with marine life on the bottom of the ocean floor. A walk across the 70 foot Shark Tunnel is exhilarating as you are surrounded by JAWS! The variety of marine life in the offering is simply mind-blowing, from Polar Regions, temperate regions, coral reefs to Amazon rainforests. Snow machines in the Polar section pump as much as 20 tones of snow every day. Incubators help hatch Arctic Puffins and Antarctic Penguins in case of abandoned eggs.
The Desert Dome which at 13 storey’s tall is the world’s largest geodesic dome, brings you in touch with wild life of deserts of Namib of Africa, Red Centre of Australia, and Sonoran of Southwest United States. Some of the creepy inhabitants of this section are Inland Taipan, Death Adders, Cape Copra. But in between these deadly creatures you will also spot a cute Meerkat. The Sun Room at the end of the exhibit is a hit with kids as it showcases reptile new-borns.
I knew about Nocturnal and Diurnal animals which are active at night and day respectively. But my visit to Omaha Zoo introduced me to Crepuscular animals. These animals are active during twilight at dawn and dusk. The rationale is that visibility is less, and hence they are safer from predators. Two smart cookies of this variety we all are familiar with happen to be Cats and Rabbits!
The Omaha Zoo makes a terrific backdrop for any kind of party or function. The Zoo authorities rent out different venues within the Zoo according to the function at hand and keeping in mind the comfort of the animals and sensibilities of other visitors. Cocktail venues can be Butterfly pavilion, Gorilla Valley or the Desert Dome. Birthday parties can be arranged for $500 at the Birthday House near the Lied Jungle. They make arrangements for all your requirements from cakes, tattoos, guided tour, host and group photos. Meetings can be held for $200 at the Zebra Picnic Pavilion. Last but not the least; you can even get married here! The wedding ceremony as well as reception can be held at the various venues within Omaha Zoo.
For my travelogue on life in a 19th century Kansas Farm, read Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead.
For my photoblog on Incredible India, please visit India Travel Pictures