A couple years back I called this the worst zoo in the country. I was wrong that designation belongs to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in CO Springs. Since my last visit they have updated the Australia exhibit, Monkey exhibit, Sea Lions, and added a traveling ice age exhibit. As much as the Australia exhibit cost to revamp I'm amazed at how little it seems to have changed. I was most impressed by the Sea Lion upgrade the underwater viewing seemed on par with modern aquatic mammal exhibits I've seen around the country. I would hate to be on the upper level viewing deck on a hot day because it's completely exposed to the sun and would be scorching. The list of demerits for this zoo is still worth noting: Admission price is more than Omaha zoo which is so vastly superior that I wont' compare them, the admission price nearly reaches that of the Denver zoo which again is orders of magnitude better and in a huge metropolitan area. For the prices charged this place should be cleaner, nicer, and more completely staffed. I went during the week but during my entire visit I saw 5 zoo employees and 2 volunteers. The petting zoo prices for animal food are now 1$ for tiny cups, a huge rip off. Quarter machines like they have at the Omaha zoo are the way to go. The traveling Ice Age exhibit that was reported on in local media is really primitive, they look like animatronics from 50 years ago the large bases that the critters sit on have been draped in brown tarps and sprayed with fake snow which has largely fallen off. The only concession stand open is the Safari Grill which is far into the zoo the food there looked really terrible and the help were less than friendly even though it was a beautiful day and they weren't busy - I can't imagine how they'll be when it's 100 degrees and there's a line a block long at their stand.
Some random parting thoughts:
The gift shop is very nice considering the rest of the zoo.
The playground is ok for kids age 4+
So many animals are out of site but there's no signage to let you know (Giraffes are put away don't bother walking the Africa trail because there's nothing to see)
If you live in DSM metro with little kids the value proposition might work out with a membership where you go to the zoo for a couple hours instead of to the movies but individual admission prices are killer and if you have to travel to get here for a once a year thing drive the extra 90 minutes to Omaha.