Oct 13

Celebrating Dr. Simmons' 50 Years of Service


Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will kick off the "50 Days of Doc" on October 13 in celebration of long-time former Zoo director and current Omaha Zoo Foundation chairman Dr. "Doc" Lee G. Simmons’ 50th anniversary.

Throughout the 50 days, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will highlight Doc’s most notable projects, animal spotlights and other memories on its Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #Doc50. The Zoo will also announce special Doc-themed giveaways and discounts, as well as activities taking place on Zoo grounds.

The celebration will end on Thursday, December 1, the day he was hired at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.

"Lee has built a tremendous foundation here for the next generation of zookeepers, researchers, educators and the like to exert and share their passion for wildlife," said Dennis Pate, executive director and CEO. "For us to be able to share that with you—one of the world’s best zoos—it’s truly magical. What an honor it has been to continue his legacy and that of this storied Zoo."

A native of Tucson, Arizona, Simmons started working at the then-named Henry Doorly Zoo in 1966 as a resident veterinarian and ascended to director in 1970. He retired from his role as director in 2009. Prior to Omaha, he served as a mammals curator, veterinarian and assistant superintendent at the Zoo in Columbus, Ohio.

Under Simmons’ leadership, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium added several state-of-the-art exhibits such as the Lied Jungle®, the Walter and Suzanne Scott Aquarium, the Bill and Berniece Grewcock Center for Conservation and Research, the Desert Dome, Kingdoms of the Night, Expedition Madagascar, Hubbard Gorilla Valley and Hubbard Orangutan Forest.

The Zoo also drew more than 1.3 million visitors annually and had an annual local economic impact of $100 million.

The Omaha Zoo Foundation launched the Dr. Lee G. Simmons Legacy Fund to honor Simmons’ commitment to the growth of the Zoo’s conservation, research and animal welfare initiatives.