Mission of the Omaha Zoological Society

The following elements of the Society’s mission were established on May 13, 1986.


1. Promote and encourage recreational activities for the public in the context of wild animals and their habitats.

2. Promote, establish and maintain educational activities and programs to enhance the knowledge of the general public and the Zoological staff in all areas relating to the natural world.

3. Promote conservation of rare and endangered species of plants, animals and their natural ecological systems.

4. Promote and undertake research programs related to the goals of zoos.

History

2012
The newly renovated Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium opened on April 5, 2012. The new Main Entrance opened with new Ticketing Gates, Guest Services and Redemption Gates. Construction on the Gateway to the Wild capital campaign continued. The updated Red Barn Park area was completed with the new Prehistoric Play Park and Fossil Dig site.

2011
The Omaha Steaks® Grill and Patio, located between Durham TreeTops Restaurant and the Lied Jungle, opened. The Durham Lodge and Birthday House renovations were completed. Construction began on the capital campaign, Gateway to the Wild, including the renovations of the Scott Aquarium and addition of the Education and Conference Center at the Scott Aquarium.

2010
Expedition Madagascar, featuring the only lemur walkway, opened to the public on May 7, 2010. Expedition Madagascar showcases the conservation work Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium dedicates to Madagascar.

2009
Skyfari, an aerial tram opened to the public.

2008
Berniece Grewcock Butterfly and Insect Pavilion opens. Construction on Skyfari and Expedition Madagascar begins.

2007
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Pavilion is transformed into the Exploration Station. Construction on the Butterfly and Insect Pavilion begins.

2006
A new Guest Services building and two additional gates at the main entrance opened. The Hubbard Research wing expansion to the Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research opened. Budgie Encounter, a walk-through exhibit, opened.

2005
Hubbard Orangutan Forest, the best view in the Zoo, opened in two phases in May and August. A giraffe feeding station opened in the spring. Construction began on an addition to the Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research.

2004
Hubbard Gorilla Valley, where gorillas roam free, opened. A tower with two high-capacity elevators to take visitors from the main level of the Zoo near the Desert Dome down 44' to Hubbard Gorilla Valley opened.

2003
Eugene T. Mahoney Kingdoms of the Night®, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit, opened beneath the Desert Dome. It features caverns, bat caves and the world’s largest indoor swamp.

2002
The Desert Dome, the world’s largest indoor desert, opened to over 1.5 million visitors. This facility exhibits three different deserts of the world, the Namib, the Central Australian and the Sonoran, under a glazed geodesic dome that is the largest of its kind. Construction began on Hubbard Gorilla Valley.

2001
Cheetah Valley opened. New bongo and new tree kangaroo exhibits were constructed. The Zoo hosted a traveling white alligator exhibit.

2000
The new North Entrance Plaza was completed featuring a new gift shop, warehouse, entrance plaza and visitor gazebo. Joining the Okapi Species Survival Program, allowed the Zoo to be one of only 18 zoos in North America to display rare okapi. A traveling koala exhibit visited the Zoo.

1999
Sue's Carousel, a 36' carousel featuring 30 wild animals and horses, opened near Dairy World. Construction began on the world's largest Desert Dome. The Zoo hosted a temporary Komodo Dragon exhibit.

1998
The Garden of the Senses, a therapeutic formal garden area where guests can see, hear, touch and smell plants and surrounding elements, opened. The Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari, 22 miles west of Omaha’s Zoo at Nebraska’s 1-80 Exit 426, opened. A new diet kitchen was completed. Construction began on a new pathology lab and keepers lounge.

1997
Lozier IMAX® 3D Theater opened.

1996
The Bill and Berniece Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research (CCR) opened. Timu, the world’s first test-tube gorilla moved to Omaha’s Zoo.

1995
The Walter and Suzanne Scott Kingdoms of the Seas Aquarium opened and the Zoo had more than 1.6 million visitors. Land was acquired for an off-site breeding facility and drive-through park. Construction began on the Lozier IMAX® Theater. The Zoo participated in the propagation of the world’s first test-tube gorilla birth (Timu was born at the Cincinnati Zoo).

1994
The Union Pacific Engine House for the Omaha Zoo Railroad was completed.

1993
The old aquarium was closed and construction of the new aquarium began. The Zoo received two AAZPA awards: the Conservation Award for its black-footed ferret management program and the Significant Achievement Award for the Lied Jungle. The world’s first artificially-inseminated gaur calf was born at the Zoo.

1992
The Lied Jungle®, the world’s largest indoor rainforest at that time and Durham's TreeTops Restaurant and Education Center opened. Simmons Plaza, near the main entrance, was completed.

1991
The Birthday House, a building for children’s birthday parties and education classes opened. The world’s first artificially-inseminated tiger was born at the Zoo.

1990
Dairy World, featuring a children’s petting zoo, educational exhibits and concession area, opened. The world’s first test-tube tiger was born at the Zoo.

1989
Durham Family’s Bear Canyon was dedicated. Doorly’s Pride, a heroic bronze sculpture of a pride of 12 lions, was installed in the entry plaza area. The Zoo received the prestigious AAZPA Bean Award for its long-term gaur propagation efforts. The black-footed ferret building constructed.

1988
Construction began on the $15 million Lied Jungle®. The Zoo was selected as one of three sites for the endangered black-footed ferret breeding program. The Zoo’s greenhouse was built near the maintenance shop.

1987
Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Pavilion, a hands-on education building, was completed and US West Plaza, a visitor services area, opened. A new main entrance at the south end of the parking lot was opened.

1986
World-Herald Square was completed and First Tier Wolf Woods opened. The maintenance building and haybarn were relocated to the northeast area of the Zoo.

1985
The gorilla and orangutan buildings were completely renovated and named in honor of the Owen Family.

1984
A 70,000 gallon salt-water aquarium opened in what had been the museum.

1983
The world's second largest walk-through aviary opened, Lee G. Simmons Free-Flight Aviary.

1981
The giraffe and hoofstock complex opened.

1979
The hospital and nursery opened.

1977
The largest Cat Complex in North America opened.

1974
The new diet kitchen and educational classrooms were completed.

1973
Owen Swan Valley and the Primate Research Building were completed.

1972
The Ak-sar-ben waterfall was constructed. In August, the 1916 public swimming pool that had been buried in 1944, and rediscovered in 1970, was reconstructed and became the Owen Sea Lion Pavilion complete with a new concession building, public restrooms and a gazebo.

1968
With help from Union Pacific, 2 1/2 miles of track was laid through the Zoo. Omaha’s Zoo Railroad made its inaugural run in July. Eppley Pachyderm Hill was opened in November on the old baseball diamond site.

1965
The Omaha Zoological Society was reorganized to plan, construct, operate and maintain the Zoo for the city as a non-profit organization. The first phase of the Zoo was dedicated to Henry Doorly. The bear grottos, gorilla, orangutan buildings and Ak-sar-ben Nature Kingdom were part of this phase.

1963
Margaret Hitchcock Doorly donated $750,000 to the Zoo with the stipulation that the Zoo be named after her late husband, Henry Doorly, chairman of the World Publishing Company.

1900-1952
New exhibits and other improvements were made to support the growing number of animals in the park. In 1952, the Omaha Zoological Society was organized to improve the Zoo and to provide administrative help to the City.

1930's
New cat and bear exhibits were built by WPA.

1920's
New cat cages were donated by Gould Dietz.

1898
The park had an animal population that included deer, grizzly bear, two bison on loan from Colonel William F. Cody and 120 other animals.

1894
Riverview Park was founded by the City of Omaha.