Smithsonian National Zoological Park

zoological park

38°55′51.90″N 77°02′59.03″W / 38.9310833°N 77.0497306°W / 38.9310833; -77.0497306

Smithsonian National Zoological Park
The front entrance to the National Zoo
Date opened1889[1]
LocationRock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.,  United States
Land area163 acre (0.66 km²)[2]
Coordinates38°55′51.90″N 77°02′59.03″W / 38.9310833°N 77.0497306°W / 38.9310833; -77.0497306
No. of animalsZoo: 2,000[2]
CRC: 30-40 Endangered Species[3]
No. of species400[2]
Major exhibitsAmazonia, Asia Trail, Giant Panda Habitat, Great Ape House, Think Tank

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution and does not charge admission. It began in 1889 and wants to be a leader in animal care, science, education, sustainability, and visitor experience.[4] It is also called the National Zoo. The Zoo has two campuses. The first is a 163-acre (0.66 km2) urban park in northwest Washington, D.C.. It is 20 minutes from the National Mall by Metro. It offers family fun, excitement and interesting education programs. The other campus is the 3,200-acre (13 km2) Smithsonian Conservation and Research Center Archived 2011-06-24 at the Wayback Machine (SCBI; formerly known as the Conservation and Research Center) in Front Royal, Virginia. SCBI is not open to the public. It is for training wildlife professionals in conservation biology and to propagating rare species through natural means and assisted reproduction. The National Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).[5]

Altogether, the two facilities contain some 2,000 animals of 400 different species.[6]



The National Zoo was created by an Act of Congress in 1889 for “the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people.” In 1890 it became a part of the Smithsonian Institution. Three well-known people planned the Zoo: Samuel Langley, third Secretary of the Smithsonian; William T. Hornaday, a conservationist and head of the Smithsonian's vertebrate division; and Frederick Law Olmsted, a landscape architect. They designed a new zoo to show animals for the public and to serve as a refuge for wildlife, such as bison and beaver, which were rapidly vanishing from North America.[7]

Olmsted Walk, near the zoo's Elephant House

The National Zoo has been the home to giant pandas for more than 30 years. First Hsing Hsing and Ling Ling in 1972, and, since 2000, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. On July 9, 2005, Mei Xiang gave birth to Tai Shan, who went to China in February 2010.

The zoo is supported by taxes and is open to everyone. About 2 million people visit each year, according to the Washington Post in 2005.

Special programs and events

  • Woo at the Zoo
  • Earth Day Clean-Up
  • Guppy Gala
  • Zoofari
  • Garden Day
  • Brew at the Zoo
  • Sunset Serenades
  • Fiesta Musical
  • Grapes with the Apes
  • Autumn Conservation Festival at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute(SCBI)
  • Boo at the Zoo
  • Night of the Living Zoo
  • Zoolights
  • Snore and Roar

Exhibits and animals

Mother and baby gorilla at the National Zoo

Daily programs include animal training, feeding demonstrations, and talks by zoo workers. These are exhibits at the Zoo:


  1. "History of the National Zoo". Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Archived from the original on 2016-07-27. Retrieved 2006-10-22.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "About Us". Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Archived from the original on 2006-10-30. Retrieved 2006-10-22.
  3. "Overview of CRC". Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Archived from the original on 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  4. "National Zoo's Mission". Archived from the original on 2011-08-06. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  5. "". Archived from the original on 2016-07-27. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  6. "National Zoo Species". Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Archived from the original on 2013-07-16. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
  7. [1] Archived 2016-07-27 at the Wayback Machine,

Other websites