Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium welcomes 50 millionth visitor

Published: Sep. 22, 2018 at 2:06 PM CDT
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Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium hit a major milestone Saturday when it welcomed its 50 millionth visitor through its gates since 1966. Prior to 1966, attendance records were not recorded.

In 1966, just less than 88 thousand people visited Omaha’s Zoo. Attendance more than doubled the following year to 229 thousand following the opening of the Bear Grottos, Ape Buildings and Nature Kingdom. The Zoo reached a milestone of one million visitors for its first time in 1992, the same year the Lied Jungle opened. Attendance steadily grew throughout the next fourteen years until the Zoo would reach a new milestone of two million visitors in 2016 with the opening of its largest project to date, African Grasslands. Today, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium sees more than two million guests through its gates each year.

“Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium has been expanding and updating its facilities at an amazing rate,” said Dennis Pate, president and CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “We are opening new large and innovative exhibits on an annual basis. This progress not only keeps our local visitors coming back to see what’s new, but also attracts visitors from around the country. We are very proud of our increased attendance over the years, specifically because it allows us to contribute more to our conservation efforts at the Zoo and around the world.”

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium continues to grow as several large projects are slated to open in the next few years: a new plaza area (spring 2019), Asian Highlands Phase 2 (spring 2019) and Owen Coastal Shores (spring 2020).

Along with attendance, the total of Zoo membership holders has grown substantially throughout its history. In 1972, the Zoo had 900 memberships. Today, that number has grown to more than 89,000. In 2017, almost 59 percent of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium visitors were Zoo members, compared to only 4 percent in 1972.

“This is an incredible milestone for our Zoo,” said Sue Lyons, director of membership and guest services at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “We are very grateful to our community for being so supportive of the Zoo and to our staff and volunteers who spread their passion to our guests.”

The Zoo’s success can be much attributed to the 800 membership volunteers who help sell memberships each year during the annual membership drive. This year the Zoo hosted its 46th annual drive, which brought in nearly 54,000 memberships through its Zoo More Good campaign.