Lincoln Children's Zoo
Entrance to the zoo
|Date opened||July 1965|
|Location||Lincoln, Nebraska, United States|
|Land area||10 acres (4.0 ha)|
|No. of animals||300|
|No. of species||90|
The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is a children’s zoo located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Designed specifically for children to experience interactive, up-close encounters with all of the zoo’s animals, Lincoln Children’s Zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
With nearly 200,000 visitors each year, Lincoln Children’s Zoo is the third most attended arts and science attraction in Nebraska. The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is a privately funded, 10-acre zoo and is the largest attended zoo per acre in the United States. The zoo is open mid-April to mid-October. Currently, the zoo is home to over 400 animals and over 40 endangered animals, including the Amur leopard and Matschie's tree-kangaroo.
Arnott Folsom began planning for a children's zoo that would allow children to engage and interact with animals with his personal funds in 1959. In 1963, construction on the zoo’s original property of three acres was still taking place but the railroad tracks for the zoo’s train were completed. Folsom had the idea to sell train tickets for a ride on the zoo’s train, then called the “Iron Horse,” to help fundraise to finish construction of the zoo. In 1964, Folsom hired a full-time train crew and the train drove approximately 2,800 miles, selling over 150,000 tickets from 1963–1964. Lincoln Children’s Zoo opened on three acres of city land in 1965. The zoo began with about 120 animals, all of which were sold at the end of the season each year.
- 1973: The zoo hired permanent staff, allowing animals to be kept year-round
- 1978: Animal Kingdom building opened, making the zoo’s first all-weather exhibit space
- 1997: New habitats for river otters, spectacled bears, Bactrian camels and gelada baboons. The zoo also welcomed Amur leopards and New Guinea singing dogs for the first time. Stegosaurus Fountain and Zooville Square were remodeled, the education complex and veterinary facility opened and "Zoo School" opened in collaboration with the Lincoln Public Schools.
- 2001: The Butterfly Pavilion opened and the zoo started planning for Antelope Triangle Park
- 2002: The name of the railroad was changed from Iron Horse Railroad to ZO&O Railroad and the zoo's original 38-year-old, 2 ft. narrow gauge Chance Rides C.P. Huntington locomotive was replaced by a new C.P. Huntington locomotive 
- 2003: Season opened with new De Brazza's monkeys, a new home for the zoo's bald eagles and a new children's play area
- 2004: Camelot Commons Education Center opened, pot-bellied seahorses and a harbor seal were introduced to the zoo
- 2005: The zoo celebrated its 40-year anniversary and "Dromedary Dock," a feeding station to let visitors feed camels, opened
- 2008: Stegosaurus Fountain was renovated into Stego’s Big Dig and Laura’s Butterfly Pavilion opened as a permanent home for butterflies
- 2009: The zoo had reached about 350 animals and had expanded to the current 10 acres
- 2011: The Humboldt penguin exhibit opened, bringing Humboldt penguins to Nebraska for the first time
- 2013: Lincoln Children’s Zoo “Iron Horse” train celebrates 50 year anniversary
- 2014: Animal Encounter Stage was built through funding by the Abel Foundation, giving children daily opportunities to meet and greet some of the zoo’s animals, including a bobcat, a baby alligator and fennic foxes
In March 2013, Lincoln Children’s Zoo partnered with Larry the Cable Guy’s Git-R-Done Foundation to create Zoofari with Larry the Cable Guy. This partnership gave hundreds of children’s hospitals and rehabilitation centers across the country the opportunity to bring the zoo to their patients. Filmed on location at Lincoln Children’s Zoo, Zoofari features Larry the Cable Guy interacting with the zoo’s animals and zookeepers in a fun and educational manner. The Git-R-Done Foundation sends the Zoofari DVDs, free of charge, to children’s hospitals and hospitals with children’s wards across the United States. Larry the Cable Guy has also been featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to discuss Zoofari and the goals of the project. Larry the Cable Guy on Jay Leno
- Laura's Butterfly Pavilion
In 2008, Laura's Butterfly Pavilion got a permanent space of its own where visitors can watch butterflies.
- Critter Outpost
At Critter Outpost, visitors can learn more about guinea pigs, doves, tenrecs, and many other small animals as zookeepers show different animals every hour. The exhibit is open daily during the summer and on weekends the rest of the season.
- The Hive
At this indoor exhibit, visitors can see and touch a variety of reptiles, amphibians and arthropods from around the world. Bugs that visitors can see here include Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, and scorpions.
- Animal Encounter Stage
Children have the opportunity to interact with different animals on the Animal Encounter Stage, educating visitors about the animals at the zoo. Shows are held daily at varying times throughout the day.
- Summer Zoo Camps
Zoo Camps are held in one week sessions throughout the summer for children ages 3–12. Children ages 14–18 have the opportunity to travel with the zoo to experience learning about animals in different areas in the world.
Children and adults can volunteer as a Zoo Crew member to assist with varying tasks throughout the zoo, such as helping with presentations, running Critter Outpost, leading pony rides, train driver, and many other activities.
- Wild Wednesdays
In June, July, and August, the zoo stays open until 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays for visitors to stay later in the zoo. Each Wild Wednesday has a different theme and includes animal demonstrations and other activities for visitors.
- Boo at the Zoo
Boo at the Zoo is the largest, annual trick-or-treat event in Lincoln, Nebraska. All of the money raised during Boo at the Zoo directly supports the zoo.
- Brews at the Zoo
This adults only evening features beer tasting from premier local brewers and live music from a local band.
- North Pole Express
The North Pole Express features a winter train ride around the zoo on their way to the North Pole.
- Breakfast with the Penguins
Guests can meet with Topper the penguin and have the opportunity to feed the zoo’s penguins.
- "History". lincolnchildrenszoo.org. Lincoln Children's Zoo. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
- "Rare Twins Born at Zoo". lincolnchildrenszoo.org. Lincoln Children's Zoo. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- Smith, Douglas (March 2009). "Firsthand Learning at the Lincoln Children's Zoo". aza.org. CONNECT Magazine. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums https://www.aza.org/findzooaquarium/. Retrieved 26 June 2014. Missing or empty
- Lincoln Children's Zoo - Train History
- "Zoofari". Lincoln Children's Zoo. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
- "Exhibits". lincolnchildrenszoo.org. Lincoln Children's Zoo. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- "Lincoln Children's Zoo - Lincoln, Nebraska - zoo with hands-on interactive exhibits". city-data.com. City Data. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- "Animal Encounter Stage". Lincoln Children's Zoo. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
- "Education". Lincoln Children's Zoo. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
- "Wild Wednesdays". lincolnchildrenszoo.org. Lincoln Children's Zoo. Retrieved 8 July 2010.