National Zoo Facts and Figures
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo was established on
March 2, 1889, by an Act of Congress for “the advancement
of science and the instruction and recreation of the people.” Today,
the National Zoo exhibits living animal and plant collections,
and conducts research in conservation biology and reproductive
Its mission is to
provide leadership in animal care, science, education, and sustainability.
Each year, more than two million people visit the National
163-acre park in the heart of Washington, D.C., to learn
about the 2,000 animals representing nearly 400 species.
A Sample of Exhibits
- Nearly a quarter of the animals at the National Zoo are
members of endangered species, and include giant pandas,
elephants, white-naped cranes, and western lowland
- The National Zoo has 180 species of trees, 850 species
of woody shrubs and herbaceous plants, and 40 species
There are also 36 different species of bamboo.
- Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are the National Zoo’s
giant pandas, on a ten-year loan from China as part of
conservation, and breeding program. Mei Xiang gave birth to a male cub, Tai Shan, on July 9, 2005. He moved in China in February 2010.
The pandas live at the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat, a state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor exhibit designed to mimic the pandas' natural habitat of rocky, lush terrain in China.
- The National Zoo’s young male Asian elephant,
Kandula, is the fifth elephant calf in the world conceived
artificial insemination. Born in 2001, Kandula
represents a first step in Zoo efforts to develop a herd
elephants. Currently, there are three Asian elephants
at the National Zoo.
- There are two Sumatran tigers and three African lions that call the National Zoo home. Females Shera and Nababiep and male Luke are our young lions. Female Soyono and her male offspring Guntur are the tigers that round out the Great Cats exhibit.
- Following decades of reproductive research, the National Zoo welcomed the birth of the first cheetahs ever born at the Zoo in November 2004 and April 2005. The cubs have left for other zoos, and the Zoo has since opened the Cheetah Science Facility at its Front Royal, Virginia, campus. The Zoo currently exhibits one female cheetah.
- As part of a conservation partnership with the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife
Service, visitors to the National Zoo can watch two bald
eagles from a close-up observation blind. Tioga and Samantha
were both injured in the wild and are unable to fly. They
are part of a naturalistic exhibit that includes an interactive
display on the nation’s wildlife refuges.
Research and Conservation
- The National Zoo was one of the first zoos to establish
a scientific research program. Today, the Zoo’s
research team studies animals both in the wild and
at the Zoo. Its
research encompasses reproductive biology, conservation
biology, biodiversity monitoring, veterinary medicine,
nutrition, behavior, ecology, and bird migration.
- In addition to the National Zoo’s exhibits and
lab facilities in Washington, D.C., Zoo scientists can
at the 3,200-acre Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, and at field sites around the world.
- Many animals at the National Zoo are part of conservation
efforts managed by Species Survival Plans (SSPs).
Through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums'
SSPs, zoos match and exchange animals for breeding, foster
research, and reintroduce animals back into the
wild. Early breeding programs at the National Zoo served
as models for
the development of other zoo-based conservation
programs worldwide, and the Zoo directs several breeding
including that of golden lion tamarins.
- The National Zoo is a premier institution for educating
future scientists and conservation professionals.
More than 2,000
people from 80 countries have been trained through
zoological medicine residency training program
and professional conservation and veterinary medicine
courses over the last
Revitalization and Future Plans
- On October 17, 2006, the Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat and Asia Trail opened as the first
major step in a ten-year initiative to renovate and modernize the National Zoo. The new and expanded
Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat is the gateway to Asia Trail; the six other species living along the Trail are sloth bears, fishing cats, clouded leopards, red pandas, Asian small-clawed otters, and a Japanese giant
- Kids' Farm, an exhibit designed to introduce young visitors to domesticated farm animals, opened in June 2004. This interactive exhibit provides hands-on opportunities for children to care for animals under close, trained supervision.
- In 2008, the Zoo began construction on Elephant Trails, an innovative and stimulating new home for a multi-generational herd, where our Asian elephants will thrive and our visitors can experience the extraordinary reality of a living elephant.
- The National Zoo’s budget is part of the Smithsonian Institution budget. The annual federal
appropriation for National Zoo operating expenses at both the Rock Creek and Front Royal facilities
for fiscal year 2006 is $20 million; Congress also authorized $14.2 million for extensive renovations.
- The Zoo’s support society, Friends of the
National Zoo (FONZ), provides an additional $4 million to $8 million
funds annually. Created in 1958, FONZ is a nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members. FONZ is dedicated
to supporting the conservation, education and research
of the National Zoo.
- The National Zoo maintains a staff of 250 between the Rock Creek and Front Royal, Virginia,
facilities, including animal caretakers, veterinarians and scientists. More than 100 facilities
maintenance staff and 30 police officers are assigned to the Zoo.
- FONZ supports the National Zoo by developing and implementing education, membership
and volunteer programs; hosting special events; raising funds for Zoo projects; and providing grants for Zoo research. FONZ operates an extensive wildlife-education program, and its corps of more
than 1,500 volunteers provides about 90,000 hours of service to the Zoo each year. FONZ also
provides concessions, merchandise and parking services for Zoo visitors. ZooFari, Boo
at the Zoo, and ZooLights are
a few of the special events that FONZ hosts each
for its members
and the general public.
The National Zoo is open every day of the year except December
to the Zoo is free.
For information regarding Zoo hours, directions,
and the Zoo's animal collection, please see the following
Smithsonian National Zoological Park
3001 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Office of Communications: 202.633.3055