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Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo

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National Zoological Park

The National Zoo is a beautiful urban park offering family fun and excitement, stimulating education programs, and a peaceful place to enjoy nature. There is something new to discover on every visit.

  • We are an extraordinarily dedicated and talented staff, internationally recognized for our expertise as zoo professionals and for our collaborative work in global conservation.
  • The National Zoo works with other zoos, conservation organizations, universities, governments, and other partners all over the world.
  • Members of the National Zoo staff work in multiple places: the exhibits and behind-the-scenes at the Zoo, at the Conservation and Research Center (CRC) in Virginia, and in field sites around the world.
  • We are fortunate to have a strong private partner in Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ), a membership-based organization with a dynamic and highly capable staff.

The National Zoo has a long history of innovation and leadership in the care and exhibition of wild animals. Today, our exhibits are more than just places within the Zoo, they include educational and scientific programs both on-site and around the world.

  • Our collection is diverse and includes animals from ants to elephants, representing habitats from tropical rainforest to local woodlands.
  • Our exhibits promote the natural behavior and well-being of animals.
  • Education and scientific research are integral parts of our exhibits.
  • Our exhibits let people get close to animals and to keepers and volunteers, who enhance the visitors’ experience.

The National Zoo has a long history and strong commitment to the scientific study and conservation of animals and their habitats throughout the world.

  • The National Zoo was one of the first to support scientific research involving the species represented in its exhibits, as well as their relatives and other species of concern.
  • Zoo scientists work collaboratively with scientists from other zoos, conservation organizations, universities, governments, and non-governmental agencies all over the world.
  • The strength of our scientific research is in reproductive biology, veterinary medicine, behavior, conservation ecology and nutrition, population management, biodiversity monitoring, and professional training in these disciplines.
  • The health care we provide for our animals incorporates the most sophisticated advances in veterinary medicine.
  • We train future zoo and conservation professionals in veterinary medicine, wildlife management, and other disciplines, and we share our expertise with other zoos and conservation organizations in the United States and abroad.

Friends of the National Zoo

Educate and inspire Zoo visitors

  • Help fund new exhibits and improvements to old exhibits.
  • Provide volunteers to serve as Zoo Guides and roving interpreters, and to staff special events and public programs at the Bird House, Cheetah Conservation Station, the Reptile Discovery Center, and other exhibits.
  • Offer special classes on topics from primates to veterinary medicine.

Educate the public

  • Develop and distribute a variety of curriculum-support materials for teachers, which can be used alone in the classroom or as part of preparation for a trip to the Zoo.
  • Produce Smithsonian Zoogoer, our informative and beautifully illustrated magazine.

Support the Zoo's scientific staff

  • Provide grants to Zoo scientific staff for research at the Zoo or in far flung field stations.
  • Provide grants to support Zoo training programs for wildlife biologists and Zoo managers from developing countries.
  • Support the training of interns, graduate and postdoctoral research fellows.
  • Run concession services for the Zoo.
  • Provide parking, food, and gift concession services at the Zoo.
  • Run seasonal off-site stores to raise money, to boost the Zoo's visibility, and to increase opportunities to provide educational and conservation oriented materials to the public.
  • All proceeds are used to support Zoo education and research programs.

FONZ also supports the Zoo by obtaining outside grants, and through corporate partnerships and underwriting.

To learn more about our goals and accomplishments, please read the FONZ Annual Report.