Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



FONZ Mission Statement

Since 1958 the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) has been providing support to the National Zoological Park. In 1966 that relationship became formalized when Congress and the White House authorized the Smithsonian to contract with FONZ, a nonprofit corporation. Since then FONZ has raised millions of dollars to support the Zoo. Over the last five years, FONZ has raised an average of $3 million a year toward the programs at the Zoo.

How FONZ Supports the Zoo


  • In addition to the monetary contributions FONZ makes to the Zoo, we have nearly 2000 volunteers that provide more than 94,000 hours of support every year.
  • The volunteers of FONZ are the largest single unit volunteer force in the Smithsonian.
  • Our volunteers serve as Zoo Guides, exhibit interpreters, and assistants at special events and public programs at the Bird House, Cheetah Conservation Station, the Reptile Discovery Center, and other exhibits. Visit our volunteer page and see how you can make a difference, too.

Educational Programs

  • FONZ offers special classes and camps on topics from primates to veterinary medicine to students from preschool through adult.
  • We 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.
  • FONZ staff produces our informative and beautifully illustrated Smithsonian Zoogoer magazine.


  • FONZ operates gift stores at the Zoo. All proceeds are used to support Zoo education and research programs.
  • We fund new exhibits and improvements to old exhibits through corporate partnerships and underwriting, and other membership and development activities.
  • We host several major fundraising events each year that boost the Zoo's visibility in the community and increase opportunities to provide educational and conservation oriented materials to the public.