Zoowide Initiatives

Zoowide Initiatives

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium engages in a wide variety of sustainable practices and is always looking for ways to conserve its resources.

Cardboard boxes, telephone books, old clothing and other materials that are safe to reuse are repurposed as enrichment items in exhibits throughout the Zoo. Items like these give animals new and exciting ways to stimulate their senses and explore their enclosures.

For instance, discarded spices and perfumes are used to “mark” a predator’s territory. The scents from the spice or perfume used will trigger the cats’ curiosity and natural hunting instincts.

Automatic lighting are also used in various exhibits throughout the Zoo, specifically in Kingdoms of the Night, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit. This practice helps mimic the natural habitat of each animal and benefits their psychological well-being, in addition to conserving electricity.

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has also initiated practices outside of the animal areas that allow the general public to partake in our cause.

Here's a snapshot of the projects we have established, as well as a summary of our sustainability journey.

Sustainability Summary


Solar Panel Array

Thanks to a grant from The Nebraska Environmental Trust, a 25-kW solar panel array was installed in the African Grasslands. For over half the year, the panel is expected to produce 100% of the electricity needs for areas such as the lion viewing structure, the overnight Safari camps, restrooms, as well as the nearby lighting. In addition to generating electricity for the Zoo, the structure supporting the solar panels will provide much needed shade for Zoo guests waiting in line to board Skyfari. Engaging lessons were also developed to encourage area students to learn more about solar energy.


Battery Recycling

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium recycles six different kinds of rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries:

  • Nickel cadmium: Cordless power tools, cordless phones, digital cameras and video cameras and two-way radios
  • Nickel metal hydride: Cellphones, cordless power tools, cordless phones, digital cameras and two-way radios
  • Lithium ion: Cordless power tools, digital cameras, laptop computers and cell phones
  • Small sealed lead acid: Mobility scooters, fire emergency devices, emergency exit signs and back-up batteries
  • Alkaline: Alarm clocks, calculators, flashlights, TV remote controls and remote control toys
  • Lithium primary: Keyless entry car remotes, watches and pacemakers

Electronics Recycling

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium takes care of more than just animals. We also tend to computers, copy machines, high-tech laboratory equipment and much more. How else would we get anything accomplished? When it’s time to update our equipment, all of our old electronics are recycled through CP Recovery.

Cell Phone Recycling

Keeping up with the latest cell phone trends? Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium gladly accepts old and unwanted cell phones to assist The Orangutan Conservancy. Our cell phone drop-off bins are located at Guest Services, the Wild Kingdom Pavilion and the Elevator Building.

Zoo Recycling Program

When in doubt, don’t throw it out. Thanks to a grant from The Nebraska Environmental Trust, we have special recycle bins located throughout the Zoo. Click here to learn about the different types of materials we recycle. 

Fryer Oil for Train Fuel

All aboard the Omaha Zoo Railroad, between 300 to 400 gallons of fryer oil is repurposed from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium’s concession stands for use in the train each year.

Electronic Pay Stubs

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium can elect to receive an electronic version of their pay statement each month to help save on paper.

Scott Aquarium Water Reclaim

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium backwashes, filters and replaces water in the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium shark tunnel. About 25,000 gallons of water is reclaimed each week. Since 1995, the Zoo has saved more than 17 million gallons.

Reusable Membership Cards

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium members now receive cards that never have to hit the recycle bin. Every time you’re looking to renew, the Membership Department updates your existing card with your new information for the season.

Zoo Map Recycling

Maps are good for more than finding your way. If you have no plans of scrapbooking your visit, be sure to recycle your map at one of three map recycle stations located throughout the Zoo: Guest Services, the main entrance redemption gate and the Lozier IMAX® Theater lobby. During our peak season, a fourth location will be available at our north entrance.