Family Days Out visit Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium!

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Lisa | read

Family Days Out visit Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the incredible award-winning Nebraska attraction featuring a NEW elephant calf too!

omahas henry doorly zoo small cute furry animal wildlife

Family Days Out were lucky enough to visit the award-winning Nebraska zoo - Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and it was AMAZING!

Let's get started!

We visited early March, so they were in their Spring / Fall season. This meant that some of the seasonal attractions hadn't opened yet (such as the Splash Pad), but the animals were out in full force and the enclosures did not disappoint!

As soon as you walk in, you can't miss the impressive Desert Dome, housing the largest indoor desert in the world! (The dome itself also happens to be the world's largest glazed geodesic dome, which is also incredibly impressive!)

Here you can explore 84,000 square feet, set across two levels, with so much to see and learn! Did you know that the ice caps were considered desert? Neither did we!

As soon as you start exploring the impressive Desert Dome, you can see why this is one of the most talked about exhibits at the zoo. It's incredible!

Even with the cold winds outside, you feel you have transformed to the biologically diverse sand dunes of Namibia, or the arid lands of Australia!

There are three deserts within the Desert Dome to explore - the Namib Desert, the Australian Red Center, and the Sonoran Desert.

The three desert areas are divided by a 55-ft tall central mountain, with so many unique desert plants to explore as you make your way around it.

It's not just plants to see either, there are some pretty adorable creatures too, including snakes, frogs, birds, new animals you might not have heard of before (who knows what a Klipspringer is!?) and there is even a Bobcat!

This was amazing as the Bobcat is the favorite animal here at Family Days Out.  There were some pretty impressive snakes too! What is always fun is trying to spot the reptiles and amphibians in their enclosures - they are often hiding!

The other thing that really stood out to us as we explored this incredible exhibit, is the attention to detail in the design.

The rattlesnake enclosure was set in an old abandoned gold mine - the kind of detailed display you would expect at Disneyland! (The indoor swamp is worthy of it's own blog!)

Night Owls Alert!

Before you leave the Desert Dome, make sure you head to the lower level, as here you can immerse yourselves in the world's largest nocturnal exhibit - Kingdoms of the Night! As soon as you walk in, you feel like you're in a cave beneth the earth, with stalactites and stalagmites dripping into a "seemingly bottomless" pit.

Allow your eyes to adjust when you arrive, as there is so much to see and yes, it's dark down there! The day-night cycles are reversed in this exhibit, so you can really see some amazing species in their element.

So many amazing creatures, and it's really fun for kids to try and spot what features these nocturnal animals have that allow them to thrive in the dark.

Spanning 3/4 of an acre, this impressive exhibit took a year to complete, and you can see why. The enclosure is separated into several exhibits, each one representing a different environment.  It's so fun to see all the different species of bats playing and flying too!

The layout of the zoo makes it really fun and simple to get around. It's majority in a circle, so you can just pick a direction and make your way around without feeling like you're going to miss something (and you definitely don't want to miss anything!)

The Asian Highlands transports you to the Himalayas thanks to the level of detail again in the overall design of the area. Kids will love seeing the prayer flags across the temples, before coming face to face with some beautiful big cats! 

(The snow leopards are known for their hiding abilities, so it's fun to try and spot them too!)

From the biggest creatures to the tiniest creatures, the wildlife seems endless as we strolled around.

Unforgettable Experiences!

Nothing can prepare you for the Hubbard Gorilla Valley. Looking into the eyes of one of the most amazing species on the planet, is otherworldy. Just watching the interactions, and the movements, and gestures of these incredibly intelligent creatures.... they are so human like in so many ways, and if you didn't think about the impact we are having on our planet, and on our amazing wildlife, before - you will after this experience.

FAQ: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

All the animals are waiting for you at 3701 S. 10th St., Omaha, NE 68107

You can visit any day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day!

Hours are 9am - 5pm April 1 to October 31 (Buildings will stay open until 6pm, except the Lied Jungle which closes at 4pm), then 10am - 4pm rest of year (Buildings will stay open until 5pm, except the Lied Jungle which closes at 3pm)

Summer (May 1 to September 30)

Adults (Over 12 years) - $31.95 / Child (Ages 3-11) $26.95

Spring & Fall (March, April, October & November)

Adults (Over 12 years) - $26.95 / Child (Ages 3-11) $19.95

Winter (December 1 to February 28/29)

Adults (Over 12 years) - $19.95 / Child (Ages 3-11) $13.95

Discounts for Miliary / Military child and Seniors. Under 2s always FREE!

Of course! Check out Stingray Beach near the Harper Event Center, as well as the Touch Tank within the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium!

Absolutely, and it's a great way for kids to see what goes on in the zoo, and learn more about the animals!

Within the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium you'll find daily Penguin Feeding at 10:30am and 3pm, as well as Shark Feeding at 11am on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

Owen Sea Lion Shores is where you can enjoy Sea Lion Training at 10:30am and 2pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in April and May, and then daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day!

Education Is Key!

What's great about these educational moments for children is that it allows them to feel like there is something they can individually do to make a difference. Deforestation of the Amazon feels an insurmountable issue to make a difference in, but re-using that water bottle?  That's something kids can start today!

Next up was the Scott African Grasslands, and we were ready to see the new baby elephant! As we made our way around what really did feel like an African safari, we were treated to a wonderfully friendly welcome by some very tall giraffes!

That wasn't before trying to spot the rhino - can you see him in the photo above?


When we FINALLY arrived at the elephant enclosure, ready to spot Hondo for the very first time, the families were just heading into the indoor section, so we rushed over, and he was just adorable! In fact, there were a few tiny elephants that we could fawn over and to watch how united and connected the elephants were was just magical!

One thing that really stood out as we explored the expansive zoo, is their focus on conservation - one of the reasons Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is considered one of the best in the WORLD!

Not only in their inter-zoo breeding programs (one amazing fact is that there have been 5 African elephants born in captivity - Eugenia, Sonny, Mopani, Amandra, and Hondo is the fifth!), but throughout the exhibits there are plenty of informational plaques perfect for children to learn all about the importance of keeping plastics out of the oceans, recycling, and why it's so important to protect the habitats of our wildlife.

Under The Sea!

Then, get ready to explore UNDER our planet's waters with the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium! This was such a special experience and again, the attention to detail didn't go unnoticed!

Yes, they even had a light snow for the penguins, who LOVED it before splashing around in their watery home!

Kids could enjoy the super fun touchpool, before being taken on a journey through Antarctica, the Amazon, the oceans, and everything in between!

Can you spot the tiny smiling face on the stingray below?

The Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium allows you to get up close to creatures you may never see in the wild - or even know existed! Just to be able to marvel at the way a jellyfish moves, is incredible.

Ddi you know there is even a species called Upside-Down Jellyfish? We didn't until our visit!

The 70ft shark tunnel is incredible impressive, and worth spending a moment on the benches just sitting, and watching. There are SO many species to spot, from the graceful rays, to gentle sharks, and even a turtle or two!

From the waters to the jungles, we made our way to the much-talked about Lied Jungle exhibit, where Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium have recreated a natural rainforest experience which also happens to the the largest indoor jungle in the USA!

Can you spot the cheeky primates in these photos?

You can make your way around crashing waterfalls and see the swinging monkeys as you really feel that rainforest humidity, showcasing rainforests from South America, Asia and Africa!

An amazing family day out in Omaha, this award-winning zoo is an incredible place to visit as a family.  We had SUCH a brilliant experience, so make sure you head on out to visit Sonny in person too!

Check out our FAQ for details on admission, opening hours and animal encounters, and don't forget your camera on your visit - you'll be needing it!

Have a WILD day, kids!

Lisa Written by

Lisa has been a content writer for Family Days Out for nearly 10 years, and a keen travel writer for nearly 20. She loves experiencing the best of a city, discovering the many things to do and immersing herself in the culture, and sharing these experiences with others through her writing.

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