The Master Plan, which was developed in June 2010, is the culmination of many months of work. It incorporates visitor experiences and amenities, state-of-the-art animal habitats that reflect the latest husbandry knowledge, and a place to instruct the next generation of wildlife biologists.

The Master Plan provides for a dedicated service path around the Zoo with access to animal holding areas that leave the sidewalks to our guests and addresses steep walkways. Older vintage exhibits will be replaced with exhibits measured in partial or whole acres for large animals that live in social groups such as elephants, rhinos and lions. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium Director and CEO Dennis Pate said, “We are all excited about the possibilities of building on a great zoo.”

Completed Projects

Gateway to the Wild Capital Campaign 
Gateway to the Wild was included in Phase 1 of the Master Plan. This $33-million campaign enhanced the visitor experience with the addition and improvement of the following guest amenities:

African Grasslands
The African Grasslands is a $73-million project that spans 28 acres and is the largest project undertaken in the Zoo's history. It has transformed the eastern boundary of the Zoo, from the former Grevy's zebra exhibit up to Pachyderm Hill, once home to African elephants and white and Indian rhinos.

The African Grasslands features breathtaking panoramic views of grasslands and African wildlife. There is an extensive use of grasses, acacia-like trees, kopjes and minimal visual barriers and includes twenty-five new buildings and structures.

A considerable amount of time has been spent on the experience Zoo guests will encounter. This project includes new restrooms, concessions and ADA accessible pathways. Click here for more information.

Children's Adventure Trails
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium opened Children’s Adventure Trails in June 2017. This interactive play area sits on five acres of land and combines outdoor adventure with hands-on learning opportunities. The exhibit is made up of a variety of habitats, interactive animal exhibits and climbing areas allowing guests to learn through exploring. There are three distinct areas within the site: Children’s Adventure Trails, the Dick and Mary Holland Meadowlark Theater and the Education Building. Click here for more information.

Future Exhibits

Asian Highlands
Asian Highlands will transport Zoo guests on an immersive journey through Asia, ranging from the grasslands of Northern India, though the Himalayan Mountains, to the boreal forests of northeastern China. Set on an undeveloped eight acres inside Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Asian Highlands is a $20 million project. This is a total immersion exhibit set along the main path just north of the Aviary.  Guests will encounter a unique landscape and diverse collection of animals including red panda, white-naped crane, sloth bear, Amur tiger, snow leopard, takin, goral, Indian rhino, tufted deer and Pere David’s deer. Most of the listed species are very cold tolerant and will be available for viewing year-round.

Expected completion of the Indian rhino, Pere David’s deer, crane, red panda and tufted deer areas is summer 2018. Expected completion of the sloth bear, tiger, snow leopard, takin, Yeti Camp and Kid’s Discovery Trail is summer 2019. Click here for more information.

Coastal Shores
New sea lion and polar bear exhibits surrounding a North American coastal themed children’s splash zone and play area. This will be located adjacent to the existing carousel area on the site formally occupied by bears, swan valley and points north. This area will also include family changing areas, a café with food and drink, and trellis sheltered seating for parents and families.

Equatorial Africa
Expanding on the success of adjacent Hubbard Gorilla Valley, this project will add Central Africa forest dwellers such as okapi, red river hogs, and bongo, as an immersive outdoor forest trail experience. This will also include enhancing the existing gorilla food service and restroom cluster along with a new outdoor seating plaza.

Infrastructure Projects

As the Zoo continues to grow, so does the continuous need to maintain and improve roads, pathways, utilities and other building support. Recent infrastructure projects include:

  • New Well: Installed near Simmons Aviary and Expedition Madagascar, a new well was completed and put into service on June 18, 2015.
  • Cold Storage: A new cold storage facility is set for completion this fall. Cold storage was formerly located behind the Desert Dome.
  • Maintenance Shop Road: Located near Pachyderm Hill, the gravel road provides employees access to the Zoo's maintenance shop. Completed August 2015.
  • Parking Lot Near Avian Support Center: A parking lot has been constructed near the new Avian Support Center to accommodate vehicles and foot traffic to the area. Completed September 2015.

To download the Master Plan Executive Summary, please click here.  To download the Master Plan Conceptual Framework, please click here.