After two years of planning, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will open the first phase of the $22 million Asian Highlands Exhibit to the public on Thursday.
The eight-acre site sits on a previously undeveloped hillside on the northern end of the grounds, near the aviary. All of the animals are native to Asia and most are found in the upper elevations. Zoo officials say that means they should be comfortable with Omaha's chilly winters.
"It turned out just beautifully," Zoo Director Dennis Pate says. " We're real happy with it." Asian Highlands will transport guests on an immersive journey through Asia, ranging from the grasslands of Northern India, though the Himalayan Mountains to the boreal forests of northeastern China.
In this total immersion exhibit, visitors will see a variety of animals, including red pandas, Indian rhinos, tufted and Pere's David deer as well as white-naped cranes.
The project is split into two phases, with the final one set for opening in the spring of 2019. That will include the addition of the sloth bear, snow leopard, Amur tiger and the Kid's Discovery Trail.