Go wild at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium


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Will Patterson

Those in downtown for the first time may see what appears to be a giant bubble sitting on the horizon. For those more familiar with Omaha and one of its most popular attractions the answer for the strange looking structure is simple: the Desert Dome at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

For students that are from out of town, the zoo is a must see location in Omaha. The Henry Doorly Zoo is at the heart of recreation with more than a million visitors every year, and a potential of two million visitors this year, according to zoo’s CEO and Executive Director Dennis Pate.

So what gives this world renowned zoo the reputation that it has earned? With such a wide variety of animals and exhibits everyone is able to find something that is sure to keep them entertained.

The Desert Dome is just one of the many attractions located at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. The building’s eccentric appearance is attributed to the 1,760 tinted acrylic panels composing its massive dome.

While a variety of desert biomes from the Namib Desert, the Red Center of Australia and the Sonoran Desert are on the main floor of the Desert Dome underneath it lies one of the world’s largest nocturnal exhibits in the world, Kingdom’s of the Night.

When asked what are some of the must see exhibits at the zoo Troy Solberg, zoo staff member commented, “It’s hard to say which are the must see exhibits here at the zoo. Different visitors have different areas of interest. I am partial to the aquarium.”

The Scott Aquarium, from which Solberg was formally a keeper at, remains the largest aquarium embedded in a zoo. An array of animals from the ocean’s depths to the Amazon River give zoo visitors a glimpse of the world under the surface.

Additions to the aquarium in recent years have included an extensive exhibit of jellyfish from across the globe as well as a touch tank to give visitors a hands-on experience with sea life.

The most recent changes to the zoo, only a fraction of the establishment’s current renovation plans, provide a unique new experience for even Omaha residents and frequent visitors.

The African Grasslands is one of the most recent changes to Henry Doorly’s setup. The transformation of the zoo’s eastern side has been the largest project ever undertaken by the zoo, costing $73 million and spanning across 28 acres.

Now elephants, giraffes and far more species of African wild life can be seen in wide open fields where they’re free to roam in view of the visitors.

“The zoo continues to grow and change over time so the collection is always changing and new exhibits are in the works,” Solberg said.

Solberg additionally went on to explain the conservation efforts currently being carried out at the Henry Doorly Zoo. The zoo uses its resources and access to expert personal to help contribute to the conservation efforts across the world.

More information about visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo and up-coming events is available at their website.