* * *
Nebraska's No. 1 tourist attraction packs an economic wallop.
Using attendance and financial information from 2012, a study conducted by Eric C. Thompson revealed that Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium added $148.12 million to the Omaha economy.
The $148 million is up significantly since Thompson's similar study in 2008. The zoo's economic impact then was $85.88 million.
In 2012, the zoo welcomed nearly 1.72 million people, which set an attendance record and helped earn Trip Advisor's top-zoo-in-the-nation ranking.
Thompson is director of the Bureau of Business Research and an associate professor of economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The state benefited from the Omaha zoo as well. The UNL study found that its economic impact on the state for 2012 was $116.46 million.
In the past, Thompson has written economic impact reports on the UNL athletic department and on Nebraska wineries and grape growers.
He also co-authored reports on the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials and the NCAA basketball and volleyball tournaments in Omaha.
His reports take into consideration such factors as state and local economic growth, the impact of infrastructure on the economy and economic development.
Photo gallery: Snowy playtime for zoo's lion cubs