Jun 15

A Dad’s Take on the Zoo

“I have two boys, one who just finished first grade and one going into kindergarten. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is something that we do outside that is active, and I don’t risk blowing a hamstring,” says Trevor Schade, a single father who shares custody of his sons.

Schade says they especially enjoy the zoo in the winter. “The big indoor attractions are all right near the entrance so, even on the coldest days, we just throw on a coat and dash from building to building. There are usually not many people there in winter, and the Lied Jungle and the Desert Dome are nice and steamy.”

A love of the PBS show, Wild Kratts, complements the animal knowledge the boys pick up on each visit (they’ve even been to the zoo in their Wild Kratts costumes). As patron members, they’ve also become de facto tour guides. “After we were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour as part of our patron membership, I wanted to show my appreciation by making another donation. Then, that donation wound up getting us an elephant plaque,” Schade says. “My boys have fun checking out their names on the plaque, and, no doubt, they’re getting a start on understanding philanthropy as well.”

As part of their patron membership, Schade and his sons enjoy being able to invite guests along when they go to the zoo, and to access all their favorite extras, such as Stingray Beach and Skyfari, any time they want at no extra charge.


But patron membership and plaques are just two of the many ways to involve the whole family in supporting the zoo. There’s also the Zoo Daddy (or Zoo Mama) program, which enables participants to “adopt” a zoo animal for themselves or a loved one for as little as $25. Those who wish to give on a deeper level receive additional perks such as invitations to zoo events and ride passes.

As for Schade, he likes the fact that his children are growing up going to the same place he loved as a kid… only bigger and better. “None of the big exhibits were there back then, of course, but the real game-changer is that membership. When I was growing up, we’d pay the day fee, and we’d have to make sure we didn’t waste any of that fee. We’d see everything, and we’d all be ridiculously tired and short with each other by the end of it.” With his boys, they pick out two or three things to do per visit. “No one gets hungry, no one gets tired of walking. We can be in and out in an hour and know that we can come back the next week and see something new.”

For information about giving a zoo membership or an Omaha Zoo Foundation patron membership to a father or any important person in your life, please visit omahazoofoundation.org or call 402-738-2073.