That’s quite a boast, I know. But I genuinely believe that Omaha, Nebraska’s Henry Doorley Zoo and aquarium can stand the scrutiny. This zoo has the superlatives: The second largest interior rainforest in the world (the largest in the western hemisphere), the world’s third-largest aviary, the most massive glazed geodesic dome in the world, and the world’s biggest interior desert scape and interior swamp. The zoo has over two million visitors annually and has been rated by Tripadvisor as the “Best Zoo in the world” for several years running.
So come with me as we explore this amazing place. I include a lot of pictures, but really, this place is a photographer’s dream come true.
The Lied Jungle
At the time of its opening in April of 1992, the Lied Jungle was the largest indoor rainforest in the world. (it lost its title in the mid-2000’s but even today it the second largest. The Lied Jungle has almost three acres of floor space and is over 80ft tall. The exhibit has an elevated walkway as well as a trail on the jungle floor. There are over 90 species of animals who generally have free reign over the complex. It is very common to see birds flying right over you or a monkey swing right past you. The Jungle also features a 50ft waterfall and several 30ft waterfalls.
The butterfly pavilion
Butterflies are beautiful but unruly subjects for pictures. They don’t stay still long. But hey, if I had that much nectar, I probably wouldn’t either.
The African Grasslands
This is the Zoo’s most recently renovated exhibit. It offers viewing platforms that allow visitors to experience many of the animals’ ups close.
The Bird garden
The bird garden (also known as the garden of the senses is a lovely flower garden that is located about midway through the zoo. It’s a nice place to relax and maybe have a picnic lunch.
The Asian Highlands
I first started visiting this zoo back in the mid-80’s. I have never been here at a time they weren’t working on a new expansion project. The latest the Asian Highlands will include Asian Elephants, red pandas, Rhinosauri and maybe the great panda. The exhibit opened in June 2019.
The Simmons Aviary
A walk through Aviary that covers over four acres and contains free-range flamingos, storks, cranes, spoonbills, and ibis.
One of the only zoos in North America to feature animals from this fantastic African Island. Exhibits include seven different species of lemurs as well as the rare Madagascar chameleon.
Gorilla and Orangutan Valley
The great Cat Complex and Bear Canyon
Built in 1977, the Complex is the largest in North America, but given how modern and naturalistic many of the exhibits have been designed, the complex and bear canyon seem almost anachronistic. The good news is they are finally being remodeled. The Bear complex was closed entirely and should be open by late next year, and the cat complex will be renovated shortly after.
Splashtown and the children’s zoo
The Desert Dome
The most massive Geodesic Dome in the world. The dome covers almost two acres and features Canyons and dunes over 25ft tall.
The Kingdom of the Night.
Underneath the Dome, is “The Kingdom of the Night” which features nocturnal animals. The environment includes A sizeable human-made cavern with swarms of bats and bayou swamp with snapping turtles and crocodiles.
The Scott Aquarium
One of the largest aquariums in North America. The aquarium has an over 1.2 million gallon aquarium including a giant 70ft walk-through tank that contains sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays.
There is also a large jellyfish tank and two penguin pavilions.
Sorry, I know this is a very large post but there is so much to see here. The Zoo offers a two-day pass. There really is more to see than can be reasonably seen in one day without rushing. I have been to many zoos all over the world. I have never seen a place better than the Henry Doorley Zoo. If you are ever within a two or three-hour drive away, make sure you get here. It is definitely worth the drive.