National Zoo News

Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation

Living Classrooms

A typical day in the life of a Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation student is much more than interactions with endangered wildlife. Lectures, labs, and field work teach future conservationists how to protect our natural world. Take a peek at the new facility

November 2012

A Howl-o-ween Celebration

Gray Wolf

The animals of American Trail hardly noticed the ghostly goblins and other spooks that haunted the Zoo's weekend Boo at the Zoo festivities. They were too busy enjoying their own pumpkins full o' treats! Zoo nutritionists and animal care staff carved creepy jack-o-lanterns and filled them with squid, smelt, and other tasty foods. Food is an important component of Animal Enrichment, a program that provides physically and mentally stimulating activities and environments for the Zoo's residents. See photos (if you dare)

It's a Bouncing Baby Girl

Dama gazelle calf

Last month, the Zoo celebrated the birth of its sprightly male dama gazelle calf born Sept. 4. Five weeks later, three-year-old Zafirah gave birth to a female calf in the early morning Oct. 13. The Zoo's 20-day-old female made her first public appearance Oct. 24 at the Cheetah Conservation Station's mixed species exhibit. Both she and her half-brother delighted visitors with a swift race around the yard. Adorable photos of the new calf

Kiwi Feathers Fly Home

Kiwi Feathers

Kiwi feathers are a critical component in constructing traditional Maori feather cloaks. The ceremonial cloaks made out of the soft brown kiwi feathers are highly prized. Each cloak is given a name and passed down for generations. As one of the leading kiwi conservation programs, we were eager to donate the molting feathers of our kiwis. Watch the repatriation ceremony

California, Here We Come!

African Lions

We bid a bittersweet farewell to Zuri and Fahari, as they left for their new home at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Their new keepers traveled to DC to meet the girls and accompanied them during their flight back to sunny California. They were separated for their travel and reunited at Santa Barbara Zoo, where they will emerge into a world where the daily average temperature is 64 degrees year-around and they will have a tranquil view of the beachfront! A wild trip to the West Coast

Love is in the Air

Sumatran tiger

Keepers have begun introductions between Sumatran tigers Damai and Kavi, who arrived at the Zoo this past summer. It seems that the two have taken a liking to one another—the usually quiet Kavi is showing affection by calling to Damai. Introducing tigers is a slow process. If they are introduced too quickly, it could result in a conflict involving serious injury for both tigers. If their courting goes as planned, the Zoo could expect cubs later next year! How do you introduce two tigers?

Cause of Panda Cub Death Revealed

Giant panda

Our pathologists have finished the final necropsy on Mei's cub, determined that lung and liver damage ultimately caused the cub's death. Her lungs were poorly developed and likely caused her to have insufficient oxygen, which would be consistent with the changes in the liver. Mei's behavior has returned to normal, and she's been eating all of her bamboo and produce. Get the latest panda news

What's Up

Conservation Film Festival

Join us Nov. 2-4 for the National Wildlife Conservation Film Festival for an intimate look at some of the world's most beloved species and their habitats. Get the scoop on this FREE event


Gin-Grr-Bread Contest

Calling all bakers, artists, animal lovers and holiday enthusiasts! Put your skills to the test to build sugary habitats any animal on American Trail would be happy to call home. Register today



Come see the Zoo in a whole new light during ZooLights – powered by Pepco! Beginning Nov. 23, Stroll through the Zoo under the glow of thousands of environmentally-friendly LED lights. Enjoy Zoo Tubing on Lion/Tiger Hill, take a spin on the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel, and meet Panda Claws! Learn more

New at the Zoo

A Snappy New Exhibit


A Cuban crocodile born at the Zoo in July is now on exhibit at the Reptile Discovery Center. These feisty reptiles are among the most genetically valuable individuals in the Cuban crocodile population. See what's new at the Zoo


Dama Gazelles


Habitat for Hoofstock

Dama gazelles are far from spooky, but the future of their wild cousins looks grim—a mere 500 of these beauties are left in the wild.


That's why we're so excited about our two recent births—they represent the bright future ahead and will help contribute to their species' survival. You can make a difference for damas, too.


By donating, you help the Zoo's African Wildlife Ambassadors provide a top-notch habitat for generations of these gorgeous gazelles.


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