Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



National Zoo Facilities Master Plan

The National Zoo is undergoing a comprehensive master planning process. As we described last year, the Facilities Master Plan will guide the Zoo's facilities renewal, which will help the Zoo achieve its mission of providing leadership in animal care, science, education, and sustainability. This long process, which is far from over, considers a variety of alternatives and benefits from feedback from the public. The current phase involves an Environmental Assessment, which will be followed by such steps as comparing business plans.


In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and other applicable laws, regulations, and policies, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park prepared and made available an Environmental Assessment (EA),supplemental to the 2008 NZP Facilities Master Plan EA, to evaluate the potential impacts of the construction of a retaining wall between the General Services Building and North Road on the National Zoo campus. The National Capital Planning Commission was the lead responsible federal agency for this National Environmental Policy Act action and the National Park Service was a cooperating agency.

The General Services Building is located near the National Zoo's northeast boundary adjacent to Rock Creek Park; its roof is Parking Lot C. The proposed retaining wall is part of a multi-phase project needed to structurally stabilize the General Services Building. The purpose of the proposed action is to replace the failing temporary sheeting and shoring wall and remove the existing hillside load from the General Services Building.

The public was invited to comment on the proposed action, and potential impacts, as presented in the EA during a public review period from January 25, 2012 to February 24, 2012. The National Zoo also used the EA public review to allow interested parties to comment on cultural resources concerns and the No Adverse Effect determination consistent with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. 

Comments must have been received by February 24, 2012 to receive consideration.


The Smithsonian Institution is committed to integrating environmental and cultural resource considerations into its planning and decision-making process. As part of the environmental review process for the master plan, we are considering the environmental effects of proposed actions and alternatives on the human and natural environment.

We have prepared an Environmental Assessment consistent with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations, and National Capital Planning Commission policies.

Thanks to everyone who attended the Alternatives Informational Meeting on May 22 and submitted comments to us in the subsequent weeks.


The National Zoo is currently undergoing a comprehensive planning process to identify facilities and infrastructure needs, as well as implementation strategies at its two campuses: the National Zoo located in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., and the Conservation and Research Center located in Front Royal, Virginia.

While the National Zoo has a long tradition and history in internationally renowned research and training programs, many of the facilities have become outdated and no longer meet the needs of the visitors, staff, animal exhibit and research collections, and research programs.

The Facilities Master Plan will guide the facilities renewal at the National Zoo. This renewal is part of the National Zoo’s ten-year strategic plan to be the world’s finest zoo by 2016. The facilities renewal will also help the National Zoo achieve its mission: to provide leadership in animal care, science, education, and sustainability.

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