Welcoming Dennis Schnurbusch
Recently, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomed Dennis Schnurbusch as the zoo’s new senior vice president of operations and chief operating officer.
Schnurbusch comes to Omaha from the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium (just like Louie the elephant a few months before him), and he’s got exciting things planned for the future. “With the growth that the Omaha zoo has enjoyed over the years, the focus of the COO position has changed from construction- and project management-based to more guest-centered,” Schnurbusch explains. “Now, we’re going to be shifting the focus to enhanced guest experiences and sustained revenue generation.”
He certainly has experience in doing just that. During his nearly-six-year tenure as the director of visitor services at the Toledo Zoo, Schnurbusch led many key initiatives which helped the organization reach several important milestones, including being named Best Zoo in the Nation by USA Today in 2014; reaching a record high attendance of almost 1.3 million visitors in 2015 and being recognized for the Best Zoo Lights program, also by USA Today, in 2016. Prior to Toledo, he worked for 19 years in various leadership and executive positions for Gaylord Entertainment in Nashville, Tenn.
Schnurbusch says that he already feels completely at home in Omaha. “Since day one,” he says. “The support that folks in Omaha have given the zoo and our mission speaks volumes of the community.”
He’s also impressed by the regional draw that the zoo has to people outside of Nebraska, which in 2016 represented about 38 percent of gate admissions. “I’m looking forward to finding ways to draw even more people into the zoo from throughout the region,” Schnurbusch says. “As we increase the zoo’s attendance and growth, we will be able to increase our support of global conservation, while educating and inspiring people to action. My goal, through fiscal sustainability, is to ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the Omaha Zoo experience.”