The Omaha Zoo was a sleepy little city-run affair, like hundreds of others, when in 1963 the widow of the publisher of the local newspaper gave $750,000 to improve the facilities as a memorial to her husband Henry Doorly. Within two years a nonprofit society had organized itself to plan, expand, operate, and maintain the zoo in the future. The Doorly gift sparked a steady string of additional major gifts—from Claire Hubbard, Ernst Lied, Eugene Eppley, Edward Owen, Bill and Berniece Grewcock, Walter and Suzanne Scott, and others. The result is a triumph of philanthropy. Measured as a combination of animals, species, and acreage, the Doorly Zoo has grown into the largest in the world, and, more importantly, one of the most beloved. It features the world’s largest indoor desert, largest indoor swamp, and largest nocturnal exhibit, plus the nation’s largest indoor rainforest—all richly stocked with plants and animals easily accessible to visitors. It also hosts the largest cat complex in North America, and dramatic orangutan and gorilla living spaces. Users of the popular TripAdvisor website have rated the Henry Doorly as America’s best zoo.
- Zoo exhibits, omahazoo.com/exhibits