Henry Doorly named top U.S. zoo - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 12:00 am / Updated at 9:31 am
Henry Doorly named top U.S. zoo

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has won a popularity contest.

Reviews by visitors to TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel website, have earned the Omaha attraction a No. 1 ranking. The website announced its list of the top 10 zoos in the country Wednesday.

Dennis Pate, CEO and director of the zoo, said he was a little surprised by Wednesday's news but feels the zoo employees deserve it.

“It's so nice because the whole staff has worked so hard to keep the zoo at its best, and then this comes out of the blue,” he said.

Although the ranking is pretty much a popularity contest, he said, it is gratifying that so many people think highly of the zoo.

“It really reflects the great time people have here,” Pate said. “Nebraskans really love their zoo and they're not bashful about saying so.”

Last year, the flooding problems held back zoo attendance. No such problem this year.

“Attendance is borderline on spectacular so far,” he said.

The weather has cooperated and most of the construction is done until after Labor Day. There is a remodeled aquarium and a refreshed children's area by the barn with new animals, a new dig site and more seating for parents. The baby giraffe is out more and “runs like a racehorse.”

In fact, the only problems the zoo is having now are “good problems,” such as figuring out how to get more people through the entrance gates faster, parking, and having the custodial crew work nights so everything is ready for the first visitors each morning.

“We've tried to make the zoo increasingly interactive,” Pate said. “Also, one of the big selling points is you can see so many animals within 200 yards of the entrances.”

In the TripAdvisor ranking, the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium topped such well-known zoos as the St. Louis Zoo (2), the Memphis Zoo (5) and the San Diego Zoo (6). Its Desert Dome and Lied Jungle were cited as two of the reasons for the No. 1 ranking.

Other zoos in the top 10 are Cape May County Park and Zoo in New Jersey (3), Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Columbia, S.C. (4), Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan. (7), the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Fla. (8), the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs (9) and the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans (10).

Contact the writer:
402-444-1067, carol.bicak@owh.com

Contact the writer: Carol Bicak

carol.bicak@owh.com    |   402-444-1067

Carol writes about community news, local profiles, the arts and books. She also covers the zoo.

Some city streets remain closed
EB L Street lane to close
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »