The Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE

Omaha Travel Blog

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Trinity rides a lioness in front of the desert dome.
It's about time someone wrote a TravBuddy blog about Omaha that didn't fall into one of the following categories:

1.) the zoo

2.) "I was going to City A from City B. I passed through Omaha somehow and here is a photo of me in front of a sign on the highway."

3.) "I went on vacation, here is a photo of myself while I was on my way to the airport in Omaha."

However, I am not that person. I saw only the zoo, plus the baseball stadium which was located across the street from the zoo. The rest of my time there I spent in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which was the location of my hotel. Also, I don't want to create the wrong impression here. I'm not some kind of zoo freak.
I ride a lioness at the Omaha Zoo
When I find myself planning a trip somewhere, I very rarely include the local zoo on my list of things I'd like to see there. And by very rarely, I actually mean never. As zoos go, I've only been to three others (the Milwaukee County Zoo, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Central Park Zoo). So, if at any point in this entry should I happen to refer to the Henry Doorly Zoo as "the best zoo ever" that should be taken with a grain of salt, because I know nothing about zoos or what belongs in them.

Moving on to the heart of this entry... The Henry Doorly Zoo is absolutely the best zoo ever. It sucks that a lot of people will end up missing out on it's awesomeness because it's in Omaha. Because let's face it, people don't take vacations to Omaha. Between Tuesday (when I made this plan) and today, when I've mentioned this excursion to anyone, I've gotten mostly strange looks, wrinkled noses and comments like "Nebraska?" Well, those people can suck it.
Our first Omaha zoo animal sighting!
More people should visit places like Omaha and Milwaukee and Boise! You never know what kind of gem you can find in places you have (or even worse, someone else has) already stereotyped. As a matter of fact, I plan to go back to Omaha to see what else I can find, as soon as I finish writing this! (I'm exaggerating, but only in the latter half of that sentence.)

Anyway, I am going to write a review of the zoo that I will attach to this entry, that I'm hoping more people will see without having to wade through my ramblings and antics here on my blog. Our flight left Milwaukee at 9, which was perfect. Mostly all of the other flights leave between 7:30 and 7:45 am. That often deters me from going places. I stay up very late, and can easily talk myself out of waking at 5 am to walk a mile to the airport.
A bird lands next to me inside the desert dome.
This gave me enough time to sleep, eat, walk and have plenty of time for my co-workers at the airport to enquire about why I was going to Omaha over spring break. The flight was good, it got into almost a half hour early, and even though it was still morning, my hotel let me check in. We were checked in, changed and at the zoo in about 45 minutes. I was originally planning to use my points to pay for my room, but at the last minute I decided not to, because I would have lost them had something gone wrong and I didn't make the flight. When I checked in, I asked if I could get the airline employee rate, and it turned out that my airline and the hotel (the Holiday Inn in Council Bluffs) had an agreement, so I saved $50 off what I was planning on. $50 is about what I spent on the rest of the trip, so that was a definite score.


We got half price admission at the zoo because we have a membership to our local zoo, and the two have a reciprocal agreement. One of the best things was that the schools there obviously did not have spring break this week, so it wasn't crowded at all. There was barely anyone there besides a few moms with small kids and other random adults. The first thing we headed for was the desert dome. This is a HUGE dome, which, in addition to being probably about five stories high, also goes about four stories underground. It seemed to go on for miles, by the end we couldn't wait to find our way out of the maze, it was probably 100˚ inside. In the desert part of the dome, you can find animals in their natural habitat. Underground you are inside a deep, dark cave.
I look away for one second, and Donkey ran away and climbed into the hay.
In other zoos or museums, I can see a separate admission being charged for the dome, as well as the Lied Jungle which is a part of the zoo I'll get to later.

After that we were hungry, so we stopped at the first place we could find and ate hot dogs (the only menu choice) and Coke. The hot dogs were horrible, they were my only complaint about the zoo. But we sat down near the fence and ate amongst about a dozen peacocks. Then we headed inside the aquarium. The aquarium is one that you walk through while fish surround you on all sides. WOW! The sharks and stingrays were incredible. It's nearly impossible to take pictures, which is frustrating since the creatures are so close to you. The flash will bounce off the glass, but the fish are moving so not using the flash makes it all pretty pointless.
I tried several ways to take pictures of Trinity in front of a fish, but no such luck. The penguins have a webcam inside their exhibit, which is being controlled live by internet users (I know that mostly because I checked it out the day before).

One simply fantastic feature in the Omaha zoo is that they have small domes built into a number of exhibits. You can climb right inside them and feel like you are right there with the animals. The first one we discovered was inside the aquarium, in the penguin tank. Only a couple of the animals came close to the glass when we had climbed inside. That was the only animal not to approach us when we were there, however. While some of the animals were not inside their exhibits on this day, I took that mostly as a seasonal thing (though the weather was great while we were there.
If you ever see a penguin that tall, run for your life! That thing is huge, I bet it would peck out your eyes with it's giant beak.
..maybe 75˚ and sunny), the ones that were around were active and playful with zoo guests. I encountered an elephant that rolled his ball over to us, almost like he wanted us to jump over the wall and play. I wished I could have! Another one simply stood on the edge as close as it could get, waving right at my camera for a good ten minutes. And the gorillas! There was one who broke my heart. He sat there against the glass looking right at anyone who would walk up. The other gorillas who were in the domed area walked right up to the dome that Trinity and I were standing in and stood on it looking right at us, while the other one laid upside down like it was posing for pictures. The bears didn't seemed to care either way if we were there, but that didn't stop them from laying down next to the domes.
The biggest f-ing butterfly I've ever seen.


There is a petting zoo that is just okay. There were only a couple goats and a chicken walking around. It was funny because it was windy and the wind had blown the gate open. One of the goats walked out, and climbed inside someone's wagon and started digging around inside their bags. It came out with a Ziploc bag of Cheez-Its. The owner of the food/wagon, another lady and myself tried getting the food away, but we were all kinda like "Is a goat like a dog? What should we do!" We didn't want the goat to bite us, but somehow the goat dropped the bag of food, and then just hurried off. Then one of the ladies went running up the hill to a zoo worker yelling "The goat left!" Trinity and I thought that was funny, saying "the goat left" versus "the goat got out.
This is what Trinity and I would look like if we were koalas, and also statues.
"

The best part of the zoo is The Lied Jungle. Holy crap, this place is awesome. It's the equivalent of an eight story building, the biggest indoor rainforest in the entire world. There's a rope bridge which you can opt to to climb over, that you will swear is an actual rope bridge hanging 200 over the top of a rainforest, by the way it sways as you walk. It's next to a waterfall, which makes it somewhat slick, so you have to work a little to get to the other side. (If you prefer to admire the bridge from afar, there is a hallway nearby.) There are waterfalls you can see from either side, plants and trees everywhere. There is a section where this spider monkey was just chilling out on a branch, it was not locked up behind a window or a net or anything.
Rope bridge inside the Lied Jungle.
If it wanted, it could climb down and walk with you. There are fruit bats that fly right down next to you. If you took photos inside this building, you could legitimately pass them off as pictures of an actual rainforest. Not that I can do that, because my camera's battery very inconveniently died as soon as I stepped inside the Lied Jungle. I was turning it on and off to get a photo here and there, but not nearly as many as I'd have liked. We walked through the jungle three times.

We ended the day inside the visitor's center (backwards, I know) and the gift shop. Trinity bought a sweatshirt and I bought a magnet. Then we walked across the street to Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the Omaha Royals (the AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals) and the College World Series.
The peacock who tried to eat my lunch.
There was a game going on earlier, and someone was singing "Sweet Caroline" inside. We joked about him being our favorite singer, and we tried taking a few pictures of the statues around the stadium. My camera was not being cooperative. There was a giant sign that said "13th Street" on it, and Trinity asked "Do you think that a lot of old people live here, and that's why they have to write it that big, so that they can SEE it?!"

We headed back to our hotel, which was on the grounds of the Ameristar Casino. That was good, because it meant there were four restaurants on site. We chose the Prairie Mill Cafe. It was a casual dining place and the staff was very nice. I had the special, which was gourmet grilled cheese (Alterra grilled cheese in the Milwaukee airport is still better), Trinity had a burger, and we shared some cheeseburger egg rolls, because we wanted to try something ridiculous that we'd never tried before.
They were actually really good! Probably horrible as heck for you, but good tasting anyway. We took probably half our food back up to our room with us, mostly because we knew we had a fridge and a microwave.

We went swimming until the pool closed and the water was OMG FREEZING. It was also not very deep, which made it difficult to simply dive in. That and the fact that the walls were paper thin are my only complaints about the hotel itself. I only noticed the walls because I happened to have very loud neighbors, but, coupled with the rate I got at this hotel, and the fact that the shuttle service was pretty quick and easily accessible, I'd be willing to take my chances with having loud people around me. Although,the shuttle driver who picked me up from the airport smelled like he hadn't washed his clothes in a month.
On the way back to the airport the following day, I was planning to tip him with all quarters as an incentive for him to go to the laundromat, but he was talking on his cell phone the entire time. He was talking about his personal life, and he actually swore a couple times. I do not believe in "bad" words, nor am I the type of person who will freak out if my child hears a so called "bad" word, however, how DARE you assume that you can talk that way in front of a child. So I saved my quarters. He did not receive a tip from me.

In summary, it was a good trip. And now TravBuddy has an Omaha zoo blog that's longer than one paragraph. That no one will ever read.




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Trinity rides a lioness in front o…
Trinity rides a lioness in front …
I ride a lioness at the Omaha Zoo
I ride a lioness at the Omaha Zoo
Our first Omaha zoo animal sightin…
Our first Omaha zoo animal sighti…
A bird lands next to me inside the…
A bird lands next to me inside th…
I look away for one second, and Do…
I look away for one second, and D…
If you ever see a penguin that tal…
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The biggest f-ing butterfly Ive e…
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This is what Trinity and I would l…
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Rope bridge inside the Lied Jungle.
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The peacock who tried to eat my l…
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photo by: diisha392