OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As peak zoo visiting season begins, you'll find the latest hands-on attractions at the zoo including a custom ticket and food seller among 47 new kiosks around the grounds.
"The primary reason for installing the kiosk was to offset the shortfall in our labor force. We didn't displace any employees with the implementation of the kiosks," Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium CFO Jeremy Eddie said.
In front of the famous geodesic Desert Dome, you'll find the fun "not in the sun."
"Behind me here is the Plaza Cafe and it's to provide more shaded seating to people, taking a rest here, and so lots of different additions. Maybe one of the most prominent is the Giant Screen Theatre behind me: we put a new facade on that to enhance the feel of the entire plaza," President & CEO Dennis Pate said.
It's millions of dollars worth of work that has all come together. With "Late Nights at the Zoo" starting next Friday, Pate is determined to make a good "first impression" for animal enthusiasts.
"Late Nights is also going to include a full tour all the way around the main path of the zoo. We haven't been able to do that in the past," Pate said.
Some other renovations at the zoo include Sue's Carousel, the Dockside Shop and Alaskan Adventure which offers more seating for families.
"We have been on a tear here renewing the zoo for many, many, many years," Pate said.
You'll also get to see some friendly faces: elephant calves just months old who were born earlier this year. Pate also mentioned what visitors won't see.
"Fantastic not to see yellow barricades, construction fencing, detours, dead ends, all the things you may have faced in the past are gone this year," Pate said.
This weekend, exhibits and attractions like Alaskan Adventure Splashgrounds, Sue's Carousel, Skyfari and Hawkins Giraffe Encounter will be open. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium brings in an economic impact of more than $200 million, and 30 percent of all visitors also come from out of state.