The Zoo is mourning the passing of Danny Morris, former chief operating officer and long-time employee. Danny was a fierce advocate for wildlife conservation efforts and dedicated his life to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium for over four decades.
Danny Morris was instrumental in the growth of the Zoo, not only in his roles, but also through his assistance in the design and construction of major exhibits including the Lied Jungle, Desert Dome, Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium, and African Grasslands. “Danny dedicated his life right out of high school until he physically couldn’t work at the Zoo anymore,” said Dennis Pate, president and CEO of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “He helped build this place and would still be here if he could.”
Danny started as a zookeeper at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in 1973 and held many positions over the 44 years until his retirement in 2017. These jobs included supervisor of Cats and Bears, supervisor of Aquarium and Reptiles, curator of Aquarium and Reptiles, Animal curator, senior zoological curator, and chief operating officer.
“The everlasting impact of Danny Morris on Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium continues not only in the physical structure of the Zoo we have today, but through his spirit felt in the good work the Zoo does,” said Dennis Pate, president and CEO. Lasting symbols include the Danny Morris Fund for keeper training and development, and the Simmons, Morris and Pettit Tiger Breeding Center.
Danny Morris had a passion for conservation of carnivores, particularly small cats such as the black-footed cat. His conservation efforts did not end at the Zoo gates, his passion for animals reached worldwide as Danny was affiliated with many animal conservation groups, such as:
• Conservation Centers for Species Survival, a group that works to secure populations of endangered species for assurance and reintroductions
• Felid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG)
• Small Carnivore TAG
• Pangolin, Aardvark and Xenartha TAG
• Species Survival Plan management group member for the clouded leopard, jaguar, snow leopard, De Brazza’s monkey, and Houston toad
Danny Morris passed on July 14, 2020, and is survived by his wife, Dr. Cheryl Morris, vice president of conservation at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.