Colder months are an opportune time to visit Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, where 7 acres of incredible indoor exhibits teem with life. Start at Lied Jungle, the nation’s largest indoor rainforest with tropical habitats from South America, Asia and Africa.
More than 90 animal species live here. Gibbons, silvered leaf monkeys and langurs swing in the forest canopy. Macaws rock and squawk on branches. Enjoy swaying on a rope bridge while watching roaring waterfalls and bats rocketing through the sky. Below you, pygmy hippos blow bubbles in a pool and tapirs totter.
Penguins and puffins enchant you with their aquatic antics at Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium. Catch 10:30 am and 3 pm daily feedings.
A 70-foot-long shark tunnel immerses visitors in a watery world inhabited by stingrays, sea turtles and sharks. Tropical fish aquariums, fluorescent jellyfish and giant crustaceans reveal otherworldly colors and textures.
Stingray Beach is open during select weekend hours. Feed and interact with these aquatic creatures as they glide through an 80-foot-long pool. Ask zoo interpreters questions about these interesting animals. Entry to this exhibit requires an additional fee.
Inside Desert Dome, the world’s largest indoor desert, 14 reptile species lurk.
Included habitats represent three deserts from Africa, Australia and the American Southwest. Meerkats peep, klipspringers bound and a bobcat reclines in the shade of a rock. Dare to explore Rattlesnake Canyon.
Next, head downstairs to Mahoney Kingdoms of the Night, the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit.
Take in fascinating creatures like naked mole rats, fossa, aardvarks, springhaas, greater bush babies, wallabies and short-beaked echidna. A cave with stalagmites, stalactites, and a seemingly bottomless pit adds to the mysterious feeling that increases as you enter the world’s largest indoor swamp. A boardwalk passes over animals in barrier-free habitats, including nine American alligators, with a rare white leucistic specimen.
The Butterfly and Insect Pavilion is aflutter with beautiful winged insects, including butterflies and moths; it’s also home to ants, spiders, scorpions, walking sticks, mantids, beetles and more.
A good resting place is nearby. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom Pavilion features an Exploration Station with hands-on activities and small mammal, snake and tarantula exhibits.
Even in the winter months, when some primates retreat to their off-exhibit areas, Hubbard Gorilla Valley has indoor spaces to meet gorillas at eye-level through heavy glass. Sit and stay for a while, and see what connections can be made.
After seeing 7 acres of indoor exhibits, finalize your zoo trip with a visit to the Lozier Giant Screen Theater, now playing "Serengeti 2D" and "Dinosaurs of Antarctica 2D." Don't forget the popcorn!
For more family fun ideas in Omaha, explore VisitOmaha.com.