Jan 19

Coming Soon in 2018

Happy New Year! 2018 is off to a chilly start in Omaha, which seems appropriate given that this is the year that Phase One of our Asian Highlands exhibit will début.

“Our objective is to introduce zoo guests to animals that live at higher elevations in the Himalayas,” says Dennis Pate, director and CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “The animals are very hardy and will be viewable most of the year.”

Phase One, which Pate anticipates opening the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, will include habitats for the Indian rhino, Père David’s deer, white-naped crane, red panda and tufted deer.

Pate says that Phase One, which is the part of the exhibit south of the railroad tracks, is actually the larger of the two sections because it includes both of the railroad bridges, as well as all of the underground utility work for both phases, and a new hospital planned for some time in the future. From the train, visitors will be able to look right into the Phase Two construction to see the coming attractions for next year when the sloth bear, tiger, snow leopard, goral, takin, Yeti Camp and Kid’s Discovery Trail will be joining the party.

Also on tap for this summer is the demolition of the Red Barn Park to make way for a new guest services area that includes a walk-up restaurant, more seating, and restrooms which will open (hopefully) next spring. Since many of the animals that were traditionally housed in the Red Barn have already been moved to Children’s Adventure Trails, the area will be devoted exclusively to guest services.

“The density of people at the north end of the zoo is very different from what it was five or six years ago,” says Pate, noting that fundraising for the project is still in progress. “With the Alaskan Adventure, the Meadowlark Theatre, Children’s Adventure Trails, Stingray Beach, tram stop, train station, and, as always, the carousel, that part of the zoo has become very popular and we’ve found that we need to significantly enhance the guest services available there.”

Pate adds that while it might not be as glamorous as, say, a big cats or elephant expansion, ensuring we have world-class infrastructure and amenities is just as important to the continued success of the zoo. Some of the infrastructure projects that have been completed in recent years have included the new north gate, new service gates, Tusker grill, new train station, and the ADA-accessible pedestrian sidewalk from the elevator to the carousel. “These really help us financially sustain the zoo.”

Pate says that a two-day admission option will also be rolling out this spring. “With the expansion we’ve had over the last several years, the zoo has really become more than a full day’s visit. We want guests to experience a more relaxed weekend visit when they travel to Omaha to see the zoo.”