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Henry Doorly Zoo opens new children’s exhibit

October 5, 2021

The Bay Family Children’s Adventure Trails are a series of activities and small exhibits in the Henry Doorly Zoo with a mission to give the children of Omaha an interactive learning space. The exhibit was opened this May and is an impressive five-acres with several places to play and explore.  

I visited the Adventure Trails this weekend, and I was impressed to find the variety of activities and convenient stations available. I realized the exhibit is a perfect weekend activity for walking children and their parents where they can connect to nature in an engaging way. 

Animal face painting is offered right outside the entrance, though it was closed. Air-conditioned restrooms and baby changing rooms are on the other side of the entrance, making the space more accessible to parents with infants and toddlers. A snack booth stands to the left of the rooms, which was unfortunately also closed.  

As I looked out, I was happy to see the whole area was covered in foliage. Different kinds of green trees, bushes, and colorful flowers lined winding trails that traveled throughout the whole exhibit, complimented by the tweeting of birds and laughing children. The entire area was stroller accessible which I admired, and plenty of benches and shade could be seen.  

I continued to walk, heading towards the most noticeable attraction, which was a nearly fifty-foot, two-story tree house. The treehouse was themed like a pirate ship wreck, and fake mushroom stumps lined the ground around it. The ship was covered in netting to climb, attached to a ten-foot slide and wood bridges and knitted tunnels hung in the air. Turf hills and sand surround the area where parents watched their children and played with their infants. 

The kids loved it, which I could tell from their general rapid movements and laugh-screaming. They crawled in underpasses like barrels and hollowed wood, and I followed the pleadings for pizza and a splash pad to the next activity. 

Chalk covered sidewalks lead me to a chlorine waterfall that flowed into a river that spanned across the entire exhibit, ending at a raft racing station. Kids splashed and played in the water with their parents. 

Across from the water was an insect themed jungle gym, a chrysalis swing, spider web nets and honey combs to climb on. I walked along another trail, noticing signs at each path with facts about animal behavior, and entered a small prairie dog exhibit. Next door was a goat petting zoo, where kids could groom and feed the animals.  

A small bird exhibit was the last attraction, where blue and green birds flew around and perched freely as visitors watched with their kids. 

As I left and listened to children crying in reluctance to go home, I became even more confident in my opinion. The exhibit has no extra cost to enter and is open 9-5 on weekends. The exhibit is temporarily closed as of today, but parents should look out for updates on its reopening for them and their kids to spend time together exploring the Children’s Adventure Trails! 

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