Z is for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo: Educational resources

I’ve been visiting the Henry Doorly Zoo every year for at least the past 25 years. I can honestly say I love this zoo.  I may be biased, however it ranks as one of the top zoo’s in both the nation and the world, so my bias is well supported.

Over the years I’ve learned about a lot of animals and I’ve been inspired to learn more about several creatures I didn’t even know existed until I found them at the zoo.  Now that I have kids, I want to let them explore the zoo as much as possible, so my annual visit has now turned into multiple visits per year.

With that said, I wanted to share with you some of the many ways we are incorporating our zoo visits into homeschooling, and a few ideas we haven’t used yet, but plan to as the girls get older.

        • Learning about habitats. The Henry Doorly Zoo is creative in the way they group the animals. For example, we have a Rain Forest that is segmented into the different rain forests of the world so in one trip through you can go from South America to Africa and see the animals unique to each. We also have a Desert Dome, Kingdom of the Night and a Madagascar Exhibit (which is one of the reasons visiting Madagascar is on my Homeschooling Vacation Bucket List!). While the beautiful elephant I have pictured up there no longer calls Omaha his home, the zoo has finally announced their newest project of an African Grasslands.  I can’t wait to see it finished in a few years when the elephants will return (we’ve missed them!)
        • Imax Theater. A great way to get the girls interested in watching documentaries is to put them up on the biggest movie screen they’ve ever seen.  Add 3D and it’s just icing on the cake!  We watch every movie that comes through there (one of the perks of an annual membership is free Imax.) We’ve seen movies about trains, monarch butterflies, dinosaurs and more. I can’t wait to see what the next season is going to bring!
        • Teaching about Conservation. After listening to Jeff Corwin speak about conservation last week, the girls are even more excited than ever to learn more about conservation and what can be done to help save the planet.  I love that on the zoo’s website and through certain classes we can learn more about it, as well as have access to publications related to their efforts. Through Citizen Science, the kids can learn even more about what they can do (and avoid doing) to help with conservation on their own.
        • Speaking of classes at the zoo. That’s right, we can even enroll the girls in some classes at the zoo geared toward their age range. They can sit down with zoo keepers and other education staff to learn more about animals and habitats. Another bonus, the zoo offers workshops specifically for homeschoolers! I can’t wait to get the kids enrolled.
        • World Travel: That’s right. Kids have the opportunity to travel with the zoo to some amazing places while assisting the zoo staff with some great projects.  This year they’re going to Costa Rica to work with Sea Turtles.  We have a few years to start saving up for this trip (the current trip is open to 9th graders or older), but I think the experience and education would be well worth the money.
        • Volunteer opportunities. Finally, as the kids get older, they can try their hand at working at the zoo. With both adult and youth volunteer opportunities, the kids can learn about hard work and contributing to the earth and community all at once. Of course I’ll ask them if they want to do this, but for as much as they love the zoo, I’m sure I’ll get a resounding yes response.

Writing this post has given me the zoo bug again.  I hope this rainy spring weather passes soon so we can get back to the zoo to hang out for awhile. I miss having lunch with the giraffes.

What is your most memorable zoo visit? Tell me in the comments.

A to Z blog challenge


  • Cristina

    The Bronx Zoo! I love that place in Brooklyn. We’d go on class trips when I was little, then I took my older son when he was just 4. From the Gorillas to the Zebras, we loved it. He bought a little clown fish stuffed animal that he still has from the Bronx Zoo!
    Cristina recently posted…Z is for ZealMy Profile

    • Mary

      I’ve only been to 2 zoo’s so I’m biased to ours, lol. But I would love to go to the Bronx zoo! We should totally visit each other and take zoo trips!

  • Julie Jordan Scott

    What an awesome zoo! Here in Bakersfield we have a tiny, specialized zoo called the California Living Museum whose purpose is to rescue animals indigenous to this area. We enjoy it, though, and every year they have a big Holiday lights extravaganza that has become one of our favorite traditions. Your events sound much more educationally sound and driven… which I love dearly! Ohhhh my I am glad we made it across this finish line!!!

    • Mary

      I am truly in love with this zoo. They do so much for the community and the world it is amazing. Every year it gets better and better. They are constantly improving their exhibits and the quality of environment for the animals. We go so often we get to know the animals and notice when someone is not around, lol.

  • TaMara

    Wow, your zoo has some great learning opportunities! Our local zoo also has some classes available for homeschool students, but since it’s over an hour away, we haven’t been able to take advantage of them.
    TaMara recently posted…It’s Zoo-pendous!My Profile

    • Mary

      Our zoo is technically local, but it’s at least a 30 min drive for us, lol. We used to go and spend the whole day there, now we opt for 2 to 3 hour chunks depending on the weather, then we find some other things to do on that end of town, unless the girls are so tired they fall asleep before we’re even out of the parking lot, lol. Keep an eye on my blog, I’m hoping to share some fun learning ideas you can do at the zoo to make it worth while for the drive. I have a few museums we’re planning to visit that are anywhere from 1 to 4 hours away from us. You can be I’m going to make them worthwhile!

    • Mary

      Share your experience! I remember going to the zoo as a mass of teenagers. I’m sure we were a handful, but we had a lot of fun!

  • Aca Baranton

    This is a beautiful zoo with so much imagination, keeping sections for different types of geographical areas and education for the children is the best part! I am not surprised that you love the place so much and long to visit year after year.

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