Lincoln’s Children Zoo, opened in 1965, was created as a family destination where thousands of children and adults could interact with nature. John Chapo, president and CEO of the zoo, who has 41 years of zoo experience, 27 of which as zoo director, explained that the philosophy of the zoo is “to enrich lives through firsthand interaction with living things.”
With dedicated and experienced staff on his team, Chapo said it has become a place where children could get up-close to animals and surround themselves in scenic gardens. “ Children are allowed to touch animals of all types – fur, fins, feathers, scales and more. They can feed animals directly and can ride an animal. Here children can become an animal and can connect one on one with any of the 100 species that reside here,” said Chapo.
For high school students, the zoo holds a “zoo school” where the zoo’s extensive animal and plant collection are observed, measured and studied as a living laboratory. Lincoln Children’s Zoo is a home to over 350 animals, more than 40 of which are endangered. Nearly 200,000 people visited the Zoo in 2012, making it the third most attended arts and science attraction in Nebraska. This “high school” for animals holds summer classes aimed at teaching children about animals and their habitat at an early age.