The Bat Cave, Riding Rhinos, and More
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I had two main goals for our day trip to Omaha, Nebraska. 1). Eat good steak 2). Visit the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.
I love modern zoos and aquariums, and this one appeared to have indoor rainforests, bat caves, underwater viewing tunnels, sky lifts and more. So after hunting down one of the few steak restaurants open for lunch on Saturday, we headed to the zoo for a few hours.
The first stop was the Desert Dome & Kingdoms of the Night which was a welcome change from the icy breeze outside. We headed downstairs to the Kingdoms of the Night first (and its only as I’m writing this that I realize we never actually made it up to the dome), which was impressively done. You descend the stairs into fake caves where you can view various types of bats and night creatures.
That led out into a very dimly lit fake swamp/bayou area where you could just make out enormous alligators and turtles as you passed by on the boardwalk. (and photographing was nearly impossible, so I’ll spare you the blurry dark images)
Then the exhibits twisted and turned with more alligator and reptile exhibits until ending up in Australia and other continents with furry creatures.
Emerging outside from the warm darkness we quickly abandoned the stiff breeze for the next indoor exhibit the Lied Jungle, but not before passing the food court with its smell of roasted meat every bit as enticing as the restaurant we lunched at.
The indoor rainforest exhibit was a fantastic two story trek, starting with a sloth and otters and then offering patrons a chance to cross a very real, very narrow swinging bridge. I managed to navigate it in my heels, but Jeanne wisely decided not to risk losing her wedge flipflops.
I liked having a birds-eye view of the various animals, like the Tapir taking an afternoon nap…
AND the BABY PYGMY HIPPO!!!!
I’d seen a listing of all the animals born that year on our zoo map, and when I saw the pygmy hippo, I can only say it was much like Jeanne’s first sight of a live moose. I finally tore myself away and we headed across the way to the aquarium. I would have bet the underwater viewing tunnels would have been my favorite.
But it wound up being a random saltwater fish exhibit, thanks to the little guy at the bottom, industriously digging a hole…with his mouth. He’d been doing this before we came over and showed no signs of stopping 10 min later. (Apologies for blurriness or if this isn’t as enthralling as I found it to be.)
After the fish we headed to the Skyfari — a ski lift tour from one end of the zoo to the other. Jeanne took off her flip flops so she wouldn’t lose them, and no sooner did she mention it and we were 30+ feet up over the animal enclosures then my own heels suddenly felt loose…
The Skyfari is definitely worth the price — we had a great view of the giraffes, cheetahs, and even the giant rhino! But I do recommend going in much warmer weather, as it was even windier and cold mid-air.
Walking back to the entrance, I was captivated by their exhibit of prairie dogs. They’re loose! It’s a picnic area with a bunch of prairie dog holes and lots of little furry creatures grazing the lawn. No fences or anything! (and unfortunately nothing to keep the children from chasing them)
Last stop was the carousel, one of the many things Jeanne and I share a love for. My favored dragon sea horse was already occupied by a youngster so I decided upon the rhino.
Jeanne willingly took the spunky looking rooster next to it.
I can only imagine how many parents got a kick out of seeing the grown women sitting side saddle on their carousel steeds 🙂
If you like zoos, this one is definitely worth going to! In fact, I would visit Omaha again during non-peak times just to spend a day at there. And that’s saying alot, because quite candidly there doesn’t seem to be much else to do during the day.
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